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Demand for Nonwovens in Central and South America

By : Corinne Gangloff
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In 2012, demand for nonwovens in Central and South America reached 515,000 metric tons, representing seven percent of the world total. Despite the large size of its population, sales of nonwoven fabrics in Central and South America are limited by the region's relatively low level of economic development, reflecting a scarcity of capital that has hindered industrialization efforts. Brazil is by far the largest market for nonwovens in the region, accounting for 56 percent of total demand. Other significant national markets include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. Nonwovens demand in the region expanded at a 9.3 percent annual rate between 2007 and 2012. Suppliers benefited from economic activity and per capita incomes above the global average during this span, making nonwoven goods like disposable diapers and wipes increasingly affordable.

Demand for nonwoven fabrics in Central and South America is projected to advance 8.1 percent annually through 2017 to 760,000 metric tons, exceeding the global pace. Product sales will expand even faster in area terms, rising 8.4 percent per annum to 17 billion square meters in 2017. This will be due to a drop in average nonwovens weight, which is expected to fall to 46.1 grams per square meter as lighter consumer disposables account for a greater share of the market total. Product demand will grow at a faster 10 percent annual rate in dollar terms to $2.8 billion in 2017, as prices edge up.

Nonwoven fabric sales will be stimulated by accelerated growth in economic output, personal incomes, construction activity, and manufacturing output. However, increases in regional population, households, health expenditures, and consumer spending will moderate, and the number of births will decline modestly, limiting advances in associated nonwovens demand through 2017.

In 2012, personal hygiene products were the largest market for nonwovens in Central and South America with 30 percent. Roughly 70 percent of nonwovens in the personal hygiene market are dedicated to the production of disposable infant diapers and training pants. Through 2017, sales of nonwovens for use in personal hygiene products are expected to achieve annual growth of 8.0 percent per year, with infant diapers and training pants posting above average gains. Advances in personal incomes will support greater market penetration of disposable infant and toddler products, and feminine hygiene products throughout the region. Growth in the elderly population will also promote sales of adult incontinence products. As a result, regional production of infant diapers and sanitary pads and similar products will increase, primarily providing an outlet for spunmelt nonwovens. Declining birth rates and slowing growth in the 15-49 age group of women will restrain further advances.

The filtration, medical/surgical, and construction markets are expected to post above average annual gains through 2017. In all cases, nonwovens will benefit from increased market penetration, typically displacing woven textiles. Favorable manufacturing and construction activities will also provide opportunities for nonwovens used as filtration media, geotextiles, and roofing. An aging population will further support nonwovens in medical/surgical products, as medical procedures generally increase in frequency as a person ages.


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