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SAP plant closure in Japan may impact global diaper output
October 05, 2012 (Global)

Can explosions in a chemical plant producing Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP) in Japan, trigger a shortage of baby diapers, sanitary pads and incontinence products in the very near future and also increase prices of the key raw material - used in the production of these hygiene products.

Well it may or may not; going by the mixed responses received by technicaltextile.net from a few global diapers and sanitary napkin producers’. Most of whom were of the opinion that it all depended on when the Japanese plant restarts production.

A Japanese chemical plant managed by Nippon Shokubai, which accounts for around 20 percent of global output of Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP), a key raw material used in the production of baby diapers and sanitary pads could be in short supply over the next few weeks, following an accident at the plant last week.

“Three acrylic acid tanks at the Himeji plant located in Hyogo prefecture met with an accident, due to which the entire operations including the SAP plant have been shutdown for an indefinite period”, a spokesperson of Nippon Shokubai exclusively told technicaltextile.net.

Acrylic acid is a key ingredient used to produce SAP, a resin, which again is used in producing diapers, sanitary pads, etc.

According to a spokesperson of BASF – the Germany based chemicals giant, “BASF is currently evaluating various options to support its customers in closing supply gaps and to ease the impact on the market. Therefore, we will now run our SAP plants globally at maximum capacity”.

BASF has capacity to produce 445,000 tons of SAP per annum. This includes the expansions undertaken in Antwerp and Free port in 2011.

Mr Petter Tiger a spokesperson of Sweden based SCA, which sells diapers and incontinence products in about 100 countries around the world says, “We have secured our supplies from other sources for the short term, other than which we also have inventories, so the closure of the Japanese plant will not affect us to a great extent”.

However, a director of a Malaysia based major diapers producer - Consobiz Ventures Sdn Bhd - Mr Isa Johari is of the opinion that a long term closure could definitely affect supplies and prices of SAP.

“The supply will not be able to meet demand. Everyone will try to get a hold on whatever global SAP stocks are available. Once supply is below demand, prices of SAP will automatically start increasing and reduced supply could also impact supply of diapers”, Mr Johari says.

Mr Rehman – Director of Pakistan based Pan Industries Pvt Ltd, a diapers and sanitary napkin producer says, “We keep a minimum stock of at least three months, so we do not see any impact on our company in the short term. In the future if needed, we will look for alternative sources. I also foresee prices rising if the plant stays closed for long”.

Kamal Johari of India based Nobel Hygiene is of the opinion that it is too early to guess the impact. New SAP capacities have come up within the last few years and existing SAP producers will increase production capacities of their plants. So he does not foresee a shortage.

Mr Veerabahu of Sun Industries located in Sri Lanka who has his own diapers brand and also produces for other brands, says that if the plant stays shut for a longer time, it will definitely impact prices of SAP.

An Indian producer of sanitary napkins - Mr Dinesh Mehta of Dima Products reveals that there is overcapacity of SAP in the global markets, so the shutdown will not have any impact on supply and prices.
Technical Textile News Desk - India

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