Italy aims to become the leader in nonwovens production in the European Union in the years to come. This goal will be achieved by a significant increase in the domestic output and expansion of the range by leading domestic producers, according to recent statements made by representatives of some leading local producers and industry analysts.
Since the early 2000s, Italy has been holding position as the EU’s second largest nonwovens producer with the value of the domestic market reaching about $2.5-2.7 billion. That, however, was significantly lower than figures of the long-standing European market leader, Germany, which is worth $4 billion.
Still, amid the growing threat of a recession starting in Germany (which was recently predicted by Deutsche Bundesbank and some other leading local financial institutions), Italy has a good chance to narrow the existing gap and strengthen its position as the leading nonwovens producer in the European Union.
Perhaps one of the major advantages Italy has in the European nonwovens market is its status of a major manufacturing base of nonwovens machinery in the region. At present, the number of enterprises specializing in the production of equipment for the needs of the technical textiles and nonwovens sector in the country is estimated at more than 300 companies with the largest leading players including 4M Plants, Bematic, Bianco, Color Service and Corino. In recent years, many of them have announced plans to increase output along with supplies to leading domestic producers of technical textiles and nonwovens.
Currently, the nonwovens sector accounts for about 30% of overall revenue in the Italian textile industry (which is comparable with the average EU figures), however, according to predictions of producers and analysts, these figures are expected to significantly increase during the period of 2019-2021.
This will be achieved by the increase of production for the needs of automotive, medical, furniture and technical clothing industries. So far, expansion plans have already been confirmed by some leading Italian nonwovens producers. According to them, particular attention will be paid for the increase of production of some innovative products.
For example, according to producers, one of the most promising directions for them may involve the production of nonwovens that can be used as reinforcements for high performance composites and products on their basis.
According to analysts, the composites segment has potential for further growth and may provide additional opportunities for growth to Italian nonwovens producers. These products will target both domestic and international markets.
In contrast to the majority of other EU states (such as Germany, most of which nonwovens output is traditionally supplied for domestic needs), the Italian nonwovens sector has been traditionally focused on exports. That could mainly be explained by the strong reputation of Italian-made clothing and textile goods in the international arena, which traditionally results in a high demand for them from overseas customers.
According to data from some Italian industry associations as well as experts of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, exports of nonwovens and technical textiles out of the country traditionally accounted for about 75%-80% of the total domestic output and, according to the plans of local producers and the government, these figures should remain on the same levels within the next several years.