Challenges for future lie in cost hike in raw materials & level of economic growth in developed & emerging markets
Rory Holmes is President of INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. INDA has represented the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry since 1968. The members represent the entire value chain of the industry, including Raw Materials, Equipment, Fabric Manufacturers, Converters and End Users. INDA’s main activities concentrate on Conferences, Expositions, Training Courses, Industry Statistics and Government outreach. Mr. Holmes pursued a 25-year career with Johnson & Johnson, where he had a series of increasing responsibilities in Operations, Research and Sales & Marketing. Mr. Holmes received the Hoffmann Award for Research & Development and the Johnson Medal for development and commercialization of the Johnson & Johnson line of Operating Room Gown & Drape fabrics. Mr. Holmes is the inventor of record for 6 patents.
The converting portion of our industry is following the roll goods production sector and is doing very well. During the Great Recession, certain segments of the Nonwovens Industry held volume and some prospered. Baby Diapers are tied to birth rates, feminine hygiene is tied to the number of women that need and use these products and consumer wipes enjoyed some growth during the recession. All of these products require converting equipment to produce the products. Speeds have increased and Converters are doing well. There is growth in the Converting sector around the world. Asia and South America are both strong growth areas. North America had good growth and segmentation and new product offering continue to advance this volume.
There have been several announcements regarding increased capacity and new machines. Most of these announcements are for Spunbond or SMS machines that will likely bring their productive capacity in Hygiene. The Spunlace machines will likely support Consumer Wiping Products and/or Medical.
India has many business supports in place to take advantage of significant growth opportunities in the nonwoven fabrics industry. Many of the products used in India are made from nonwoven fabrics but a lot of these are imported from other countries. Given the high import duties levied on these fabrics and products, India will have a significant price advantage with products manufactured within its borders. That said, I find doing business in India to be time consuming and I never seem to be talking to the appropriate person. I have had difficulty getting payments for services rendered. These types of business activities need to be streamlined to make India more business friendly.
All of the raw materials for the Nonwoven Industry have recently soared in price and some are not available at any price. This situation has squeezed most of our manufacturers, even the ones that have escalation clauses in their supply agreements. Cotton is priced higher than I have ever seen in my career. Typically, manufacturers replace percentages of cotton with polyester when the price rises. This switch causes the price of polyester to rise, too. This has happened but I also hear that the feedstock for polyester may become in short supply as well. Rayon is another alternative for cotton but the price of viscose has gone up as well-fortunately the price increase has not been as dramatic as that for cotton and polyester. Polypropylene pricing has risen dramatically as well but I hear that the fundamental cause is that the refineries are cracking ethylene, not propylene. Natural gas is another source for propylene for our resins.] Our wipes industry is receiving orders for products and where possible passing higher prices along to their converters. All of this means that we, the consumers, will pay higher prices for virtually everything we buy. Inflation is on its way.
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