Five years of solid growth at 6.7% CAGR forecast for $51.86 billion global nonwoven industry

Five years of solid growth at 6.7% CAGR forecast for $51.86 billion global nonwoven industry

LEATHERHEAD, Surrey, UK and AKRON, Ohio, USA – November 22, 2021 – Hygiene (nappies and diapers), feminine hygiene, industrial nonwovens and wipes will all contribute to further growth in world demand for nonwovens over the next five years.

The new expert study from Smithers – The Future of Global Nonwovens to 2027 – projects overall global consumption in 2021 will reach 12.30 million tonnes, worth $51.86 billion. This reflects a market that has performed well over the past two years. A surge in demand for wipes, medical nonwovens, and meltblown facemask substrates in particular have offset slackening demand in many industrial segments due to manufacturing shutdowns during the pandemic peak in 2020.

Total nonwoven volume will increase to 13.40 million tonnes worth $56.39 billion, at constant prices, in 2022. The experience of the Covid-19 pandemic will underpin future growth – there will be extra demand for medical and higher grade PPE nonwovens in future years, as manufacturing capacity is reassigned as a strategic necessity in protecting against repeat outbreaks.

Smithers tracks overall market expansion proceeding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 6.7%, by value, across 2022-2027. This will yield a market worth $77.84 billion in 2027, with 18.65 million tonnes of nonwovens consumed. Over the Smithers forecast period, total surface area will increase from 375.3 billion square metres to 544.1 billion square metres, witnessing a faster CAGR than for overall tonnage, as new lower base weight substrates are introduced.

The commercial landscape for nonwovens has been reshaped by the experience of Covid-19. Raw material and shipping price increases will continue to be an immediate priority. In the medium term there will be an oversupply of meltblown as the immediate need to make protective facemasks recedes.

The search for more sustainable and compostable nonwovens will see increased demand for lyocell, rayon and other non-polymer fibres in the next generation of nonwovens. In multiple nonwoven segments there is a renewed imperative to develop more sustainable substrates, including those based on cellulose or biopolymers. This aligns with brand owner priorities in many consumer segments, as well as responding to legislation, including the implementation of the Single-use Plastics Directive and new measures on wipe flushability.

Smithers’ research tracks the market outlook for four major nonwovens processes (airlaid, drylaid, spunlaid, wetlaid) across 19 durable and disposable end-use applications. It shows that spunlaid remains the most widely used nonwovens web forming process – accounting for a projected 49.6% of all nonwovens consumed in 2022.

Despite being highly dependent on polymer materials – and hence under pressure from a sustainability perspective – spunlaid will continue to grow its market share. It will increase to a 55.2% market share (by volume) in 2027, driven by new demand for hygiene products in developing markets, primarily in Asia.

There will be solid demand for both wetlaid and airlaid nonwoven substrates over this period, though there is a possibility of a capacity shortfall before 2025, unless new airlaid lines are built.

Drylaid demand growth, while still healthy, will fall behind the market mean. In wetlaid there will be some specific market opportunities across 2022-2027, including greater demand for double re-crepe (DRC) in wipes, and specialty wetlaids as battery separators for the booming electric vehicle segment.

As nonwoven markets continue to evolve a greater emphasis will be placed on smarter supply chains, with improved visibility, communication, and inventory management all contributing to efficiencies.

All of these market trends are analysed and quantified critically and in unparalleled detail in the new Smithers report – The Future of Global Nonwovens to 2027. Historic, current and forecast data is presented (by value, surface area, and weight) in over 130 data tables and figures. This sub-divides the market by raw material type; nonwovens web forming process; end-use application; and geographic region, including 13 leading national markets.

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Download The Future of Global Nonwovens to 2027 brochure

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