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Hot off the press....

an overview of the past year in baby diaper news

Braco Updates Lines

Baby diaper manufacturer Brace Manufacturing, South Plainfield, NJ, recently completed upgrades to all of its diaper lines in its South Plainfield and Caracas, Venezuela locations. The updated lines now feature leg cuffs, drum forming, elastic waist bands and compact packaging.

Agostini Forms Agreement With K-C

Agostini Industries Ltd., San Juan, Trinidad, recently established a manufacturing license with Kimberly Clark, Dallas, TX, for the production of baby diapers and feminine hygiene products under the "Huggies Kimbies" and "Kotex Fems" brand names. The company has also recently commissioned standing leg cuff application equipment, which employs ultrasonic welding technology, as well as Caldiroli's "SPL" tri-folder and stacker for its sanitary napkin line. Finally, as a result of debottlenecking and equipment upgrades, Agostini has achieved a 50% capacity increase.

Kao Updates Baby Diaper

An updated baby diaper with modified superabsorbent was developed midyear by Kao, Tokyo, Japan. Designed to avoid urine leakage, the diaper's superabsorbent gel features improved strength so the urine easily penetrates the superabsorbent and is retained in the lower area, even after rewet.

Drypers Expands International Presence

Baby diaper manufacturer Drypers Corporation, Houston, TX, spent 1996 expanding its international presence. The company in November revealed plans to acquire Pannolini de Mexico SA de C.V., its contract manufacturer in Mexico. With only one third Pannolini's current production going to Drypers, the acquisition will allow Drypers to expand its production in Mexico as well as improve profitability. Drypers also recently signed a letter of intent with a leasing company to finance the first of two new production lines for use in its Vancouver, WA plant. The new line is expected to be up and running in the first quarter of the next year.

In other international news, earlier in 1996 Drypers organized a joint venture in Brazil. Under terms of the joint venture, Drypers intends to ultimately have a production operation in Brazil, although in the nearer term, the company has made an agreement with an as-yet unnamed Brazilian baby diaper manufacturer to provide manufacturing equipment in exchange for an interest in the company. The agreement allows an option for Drypers to eventually acquire control of the company.

P&G Introduces Diaper Updates, Loses Second Round Of Israeli Lawsuit

Diaper giant Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, introduced several product changes or upgrades during 1996. The company introduced upgrades to its "Pampers Premium" line - which now includes breathable side panels, replaced its "Pampers Stretch" line with "Pampers Baby-Dry," and phased out its gender specific diapers.

In the "Luvs" area, P&G completed the national expansion of its new "Luvs Stretch" product, which replaced the former Luvs line. In Europe, however, the company discontinued production of its Luvs brand diaper completely, preferring to concentrate instead on Pampers.

Finally - in the continuing saga of a lawsuit filed earlier this year - the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade ordered P&G to pay a 7.2% duty on all Pampers diapers sold in Israel. As of right now, the company will be required to post a temporary bond on all imported Pampers, pending a final ruling.

To review the case, in June the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade sided with Amir Paper Products, Kibbutz Amir, Israel, which accused P&G of dumping Pampers diapers made in Germany into Israel at up to 41% below market prices. In August, however, P&G sought to have the initial ruling dismissed. In the latest decision, the ministry's Commissioner on Trade Duties concluded that the dumping margin was 30.36% and that P&G's actions were causing "material injury" to local producers as well as injuring Amir Paper's profits. The 7.2% duty is based on the difference between Amir Paper's pretax profits in 1993 and 1995. It is not known when a final ruling is expected in the case.

Julie Joy To Start Up Joint Venture

Baby diaper manufacturer Julie Joy, Cajamar, Brazil, is expanding its market presence with a joint venture - scheduled to start up this month - with Israeli absorbent product manufacturer Albaad Massuot Yitzhak, for the production of nonwoven wipes. The venture, operating under the name Albaad do Brazil, will introduce private label wipes to the Latin American market.

Julie Joy already has a 34% share of the baby wipe market in Brazil. In addition, The company recently completed a capacity expansion, which increased production to 14 million units per month on two equipment lines.

Fippi Initiates Upgrades

Various improvements were recently made to the baby diaper line of Fippi Srl, Milan, Italy. Among the updates is a reduction in the diaper's total weight, increased retention and the introduction of an acquisition/distribution layer. Other improvements include the addition of an elastic waist band as well as improved cuff barrier with new material. In other news at Fippi, the company is awaiting ISO 9002 certification and is in the process of establishing a World Wide Web site.

Uni-Charm Debuts Diaper Line

The "Moony Delicate Care" line was introduced mid-year by baby diaper manufacturer Uni-Charm Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. The first diaper developed to match babies skin types and designed to minimize scratches on a baby's skin, Moony Delicate Care is manufactured with fibers that are woven into a mesh to reduce the area of contact by one third and that are five times thinner than those used in conventional products.

Cremer Expands Diaper Capacity

Plans for capacity expansion are underway at diaper manufacturer Cremer SA, Santa Catarina, Brazil. The company's "Plim Plim" line - which was acquired last year from Brazilian manufacturer Pro-Higiene - will grow from 26 million to 35 million diapers produced annually between 1996 and 1997. The expansion "Cremer" line is expected to undergo an to 350 million diapers per year by 1998 and 700 million diapers annually by 1999.

Kimberly-Clark Expands International Capacity

Baby diaper producer Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, made international growth its concentration during the past year. In 1996 the company acquired a 49.5% stake in Hogla, an Israeli consumer products subsidiary of American Israeli Paper Mills and established a joint venture in Brazil with the acquisition of 51% of Kenko do Brasil Industria & Comercio Ltd, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Then in September - in a swap of assets in the European tissue and disposable products markets - K-C sold its tissue mill at Prudhoe, Northumberland, U.K. and certain consumer tissue businesses in the U.K. and Ireland to a unit of Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) of Sweden, then arranged a separate agreement to purchase the French "Peaudouce" diaper brand from SCA's subsidiary Molnlycke. Under terms of the agreement, Molnlycke will grant K-C licenses under certain European diaper patents and a supply contract has been set up for K-C to purchase diapers from Molnlycke's French mill at Linselles. While it is prohibited under the agreement from selling branded diapers in France, SCA will sell its "Libero" diapers in the Nordic countries and private label diapers elsewhere in Europe.

Most recently, K-C revealed plans in November to begin a multimillion dollar expansion at its absorbent product manufacturing facilities at Barton-upon-Humber, U.K. to meet growing demand for its "Huggies" diapers in Europe. The investment in new production equipment is the largest since the $250 million plant first began operations in late 1993. K-C's capacity will increase by more than 30% as a result of this expansion, with start-up expected in the next 15 months. The expansion will also add about 80 jobs to the staff.

Diaper sales volume at K-C increased more than 70% in the last year; Huggies is currently sold in the U.K., The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Ireland, Finland, Russia and Israel. With the earlier acquisition of Zisoft Bobi a.s., a Czech Republic diaper manufacturer with manufacturing in Jaromer, Czech Republic, K-C also markets "Bobi" economy diapers in that country and in Slovakia and Huggies economy diapers in Russia, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and the Baltic States.

Confab Enters Diaper Market

Absorbent product manufacturer Confab Industries, King of Prussia, PA, announced plans last May to begin the manufacture of disposable baby diapers. The company, which already manufactures feminine hygiene materials and adult incontinence products, was previously involved in the baby diaper market in the 1970's when it was a representative for what was then Weyerhaeuser's baby diaper business (now Paragon Trade Brands). The company is adding numerous state-of-the-art diaper manufacturing lines, with diaper shipments expected to begin in the first quarter of 1997. Product samples were available at the private label show in November (see related article on page 46).

The unexpected death of company founder Leonard Pearlstein in August did not change company plans. Mr. Pearlstein was succeeded by Stephen Harmelin as chairman of the company's board and Gordon Hullar as chief executive officer.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Rodman Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:overview of events in the disposable diapers industry in 1996
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Jan 1, 1997
Previous Article:Baby diaper market review.
Next Article:A world of wonders.

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