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1990 staple shipments to nonwovens expected to be 5% under 1989.

1990 Staple Shipments To Nonwovens Expected to Be 5% Under 1989 Producers' shipments of polyester (PET), olefin and rayon staple to nonwovens roll goods producers in the third quarter of 1990 held up pretty well at a time when most segments of the textile industry were showing signs of weakness. Total sales in the July-September period were 136 million pounds, only 3% below the previous quarter and just about even with the 135 million pounds sold in the corresponding period of 1989.

For the first nine months of 1990, however, shipments to the nonwovens industry totaled only 401 million pounds, compared with 423 million pounds a year earlier, for a decline of 20 million pounds, or 5%. Of this, PET fell from 206 million pounds in 1989 to 174 pounds in 1990; olefin is also at 174 million, an increase from 1989's 140 million; rayon came in at an estimated 55 million pounds in 1990, versus 77 million in 1989.

With the quarters of 1990 data available, it is apparent that (barring an incredibly strong fourth quarter, which virtually no one expects) staple sales will do well if they reach 525-530 million pounds for the full year. This would represent a drop of some 25 million pounds (5%) from 1989 and be ther first time since 1985 that the industry has not enjoyed a year-to-year increase.

The most striking feature of the year-to-date figures is the comeback of olefin staple at the expense of PET. In January-September 1990, olefin accounted for 43% of the nonwovens shipments, up from 33% earlier. Over the same time span, PET's share declined from 49% to 43%, while rayon's portion dropped from 18% to 14%.

Olefin did not become a really serious competitor in nonwovens until about 1984, when its share of the market reached 28%. From 1985 to 1987, olefin gained share of the market at the expense of PET and, to a lesser extent, rayon. By the end of 1987, olefin had 37% of the market compared with 39% for PET, with the rest falling to rayon.

At that point, PET started to forge ahead again and by the end of 1989 PET had a 49/33% edge over its rival. But the first nine months of 1990 saw yet another reversal; olefin took 43% of the business, up from 33% a year earlier, and achieved virtual poundage parity with PET.

There are several possible explanations for olefin's comeback in nonwovens. Its suitability for thermal bonding is an important advantage in a period when environmental regulations are being more strictly enforced. Like denying and finishing plants in the conventional textile industry, adhesive bonding operations often present effluent problems.

Another part of the explanation may be that olefin is being marketed more aggressively because the nonwovens industry is such a large customer for the olefin staple industry. So far this year, nonwovens have accounted for 59% of all the olefin staple sold. The only other major market for olefins is carpet face yarn (35% so far in 1990). By contrast, PET only gets 12% of its business from nonwovens--its main markets remain in weaving, knitting and fiberfill.
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Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1991
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