The global nonwovens market has undergone significant shifts and challenges, primarily in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 on the global nonwovens market in 2020 was dramatic, and it was followed by a market correction which lowered demand in the second half of 2021 as COVID subsided.
In 2022, the industry witnessed the commissioning of about 239,500 tons of new fine denier capacity, reaching a total global capacity of 5,351.2 kt. Despite this surge, capacity utilization declined by the end of 2022 due to weakening demand post the pandemic peak. It anticipates an additional 191,000 tons in 2023 and 110,000 tons in 2024, resulting in a 10% increase in capacity from 2021 to 2024.
North America: Expects 131,500 tons of new capacity during 2022-2024. Anticipates destocking in medical products throughout 2023.
South & Central America: Foresees moderate demand and additional capacity before 2026.
Greater Europe: Capacity utilization remains low in 2023-2024 as capacity outpaces demand growth.
Middle East & Africa: Anticipates attractive capacity utilization in 2023-2024, pressured by new capacity installations.
Southern Asia: High capacity utilization, expecting more installations before 2026.
Asia-Pacific: Major producers like Mitsui/Asahi and Toray will merge in 2023, with an expected capacity of 512.0 kt by 2024.
China: Despite increasing capacity, expects oversupply and softening demand by 2024.
With a dominance in global nonwoven production, consumption, and exports, China plays a pivotal role. Despite potential oversupply concerns, the country continues to invest in new capacity. The estimated 41,500 tons of new PP SB/SMS capacity in 2023 and an expected 2,003.7 kt nameplate capacity by the end of 2024 emphasize China’s position as a key player in the industry.
China stands as a powerhouse in the global nonwovens market, contributing to approximately one-third of the world’s production capacity. Its role as a major consumer and exporter further solidifies its influence on the industry.
China’s continuous investments in technology and facilities are reflected in the estimated 41,500 tons of new PP SB/SMS capacity commissioned in 2023, followed by 89.0 kt in 2022 and 67.5 kt in 2021. By the end of 2024, China’s nameplate capacity is expected to total a staggering 2,003.7 kt.
China’s dominance extends across various application domains, mirroring global trends. The surge in capacity installations is particularly notable in applications such as surgical gowns, drapes, hygiene products, and medical apparel, emphasizing the Chinese versatility and adaptability to evolving market demands.
In 2022, the production of China’s nonwovens remained stable despite a decrease in investment and a decline in exports. According to the statistics of CNITA, China Nonwovens and Industrial Textiles Association, the output of nonwovens in China in 2022 was 8.14 million tons a year-on-year, representing a decrease of 0.8%, compared with 2019. The average three-year growth rate was 7.9%.
Spunbonded, needle-punched, and spunlaced remained the main processes for nonwovens in China in 2022. Among them, spunbonded nonwovens’ output decreased by 5% year-on-year to 3.9 million tons due to a decline in demand for anti-pandemic products. The demand for needlepunched nonwovens kept growing due to the growth of applications in automotive and environmental protection, and the annual output of needle-punched nonwovens increased 4.9% year-on-year to 1.6 million tons. The production capacity of spunlaced nonwovens continues to be released, with a year-on-year increase of 2.1% in 2022, when output reached 1.43 million tons. The output of meltblown nonwovens in China was 268,000 tons, up 15% year on year, as the market demand for masks remained high in 2022.
China not only leads in production but also consumption, with a significant share of global demand. Despite expectations of softened demand and potential oversupply, China’s position as a major consumer in the industry remains pivotal.
Being a key export hub, China significantly influences the global nonwoven fabric market. The industry’s reliance on Chinese exports contributes to the interconnectedness of regional markets, making China a critical player in shaping the global landscape.
The global nonwovens market stands at a crossroads, with a delicate balance between increasing capacity and evolving demand dynamics. China’s role as a dominant force, both in production and consumption, highlights its influence on global trends, reflecting the nation’s position as a major player in the nonwoven fabric industry. As the industry navigates challenges, such as oversupply concerns and changing demand patterns, China’s strategies and trends continue to serve as a microcosm of the broader global nonwoven fabric landscape.