Diaper production decreased 4.6% compared to the previous year and this has greatly influenced the domestic demand to grow slowly in 2018. However, the amount of imported nonwovens used in the diaper market increased significantly. Imports of nonwoven fabrics increased at a rate between 10-16%, depending on the technology, between 2013 and 2017.
However, imports of nonwoven fabrics did not grow as aggressively at 4.1% in 2018, because of a decrease in the production of diapers. Besides, the quantity of domestic demand for nonwoven fabrics remained at a 0.4% growth rate in 2018. Both figures were impacted by lower diaper production since diapers represent a significant percentage of nonwovens consumption in Japan.
Some of these imported nonwovens are made by Japanese-based companies who have established operations elsewhere in Asia. Most of these companies are making polypropylene spunbond nonwovens for diapers. These companies have been impacted by a 14.5% decrease in polypropylene spunbond demand caused by lower diaper production. This trend is impacting everyone throughout the diaper supply chain.