PP non-woven global market and applications

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Non-woven, also known as non-woven, is a direct use of polymer chips, short fibers or filaments through the air flow or mechanical network, by spunlaced, acupuncture, or hot-rolled reinforcement, and finally formed by the finishing Non-woven fabric. At present, most non-woven raw materials used is PP, with soft, breathable, tough, durable features. Compared with cotton, non-woven fabric is easy to shape and cheaper.

Industry insights

The latest research report released by the US market research firm Grand View Research shows that the global PP nonwoven market demand was 1,835 tons in 2012 and 1,949 tons in 2013. Demand for PP nonwovens has skyrocketed in recent years because of the growing use of this product in the manufacture of hygiene products such as baby diapers, feminine napkins, adult diapers and the like. The continued population growth in the Asia-Pacific region has boosted market sales of disposable consumer products such as diapers and sanitary napkins. This trend is expected to further boost the growth of the global nonwoven market. PP nonwovens are also gaining popularity in the automotive, construction and geotextile industries due to their excellent tensile strength and durability. By 2020, the growth of these industries in the Asia Pacific and Latin American emerging markets will have a positive impact on the PP nonwovens market. The trend of population aging in Japan, Western Europe and the United States will be a major factor driving the sales of adult diaper market and further promote the demand for PP nonwovens in the next six years.

At the same time, due to concerns about the degradability and recyclability of PP, the stringent environmental regulations pose challenges for market participants. The uncertainty of crude oil reserves and the volatility of the price of petrochemical products are the main factors that affect the price of propylene, which in turn affects the whole PP nonwovens market due to the supply of raw materials. In response to these challenges, the nonwovens market has shifted its focus to the development of bio-based PP materials, which presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers over the next six years.

Application observation

PP non-woven main applications can be divided into one-time items and durable products. The PP nonwoven application market is subdivided here into industrial, sanitary, furniture, medical, agricultural, carpet, geotextile and others (including apparel, cars and buildings). The health area is the main application market for PP nonwovens, accounting for more than one third of the total market capacity in 2013. Hygiene applications include baby diapers, feminine napkins, adult diapers, soft tissue, and the like. Population aging in Japan, the United States, Canada, Russia and other Western European countries will push the market for adult diapers to further the demand for PP nonwovens for hygienic applications. The high birth rates in North Africa and the Middle East will also fuel the demand for PP nonwovens in the area of diaper infants.

Regional prospects

The Asia Pacific region dominates the global PP nonwovens market, accounting for more than 40% of the total market in 2013. In the next six years, the Asia Pacific region is still expected to remain the largest consumer market. On the other hand, although the PP nonwoven market in the Middle East is relatively small, it will become the most attractive market in the next six years and maintain the momentum of steady growth. Western Europe and North America are relatively mature markets. By 2020, growth rates in both places will also be relatively low.

Competitive thinking

The global PP nonwoven market is highly fragmented by a handful of cutting-edge companies. In order to achieve product innovation, these companies are involved in a wide range of research and development. In 2014, Polymer Group acquired 71.25% of Brazil's non-woven fabricator Companhia Providência in order to expand its market share and reduce competition. Meanwhile, in response to growing demand in the Asia Pacific region, manufacturers are shifting their focus to expanding capacity in the Asia Pacific region: In 2013, Polymer Group has started to expand its capacity in its plant in Nanhai, Guangdong Province, China. Leading PP nonwovens in the global market include Fibertex, AVGOL, Kimberly Clark, Fiberweb, First Quality, Toray, Mitsui and PGI.