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Fiber sales drop: shipments to nonwovens decreased to 756 million pounds last year. (Fibers Quarter).

The year 2001 was, for nonwovens as well as many other businesses, a very discouraging one. Fiber sales, which had been increasing at a healthy pace through 2000, took a sharp (8%) drop in 2001 to 756 million pounds, the lowest for a number of years. The data for the first three months of 2002 recently released by the Fiber Economics Bureau (FEB) suggest that perhaps the worst is over, but they are not exactly cause for jubilation. First, let's look at the last three complete years to provide some perspective on recent developments (data are in millions of pounds):

Olefin, which has been the biggest fiber in the market for several years, increased its sales from 1999 to 2001, although the increase was quite modest. Since 1996 sales to the nonwovens industry had been increasing each year at a good rate. But, in 2001, the business dropped off 68 million pounds (8%).

In terms of marketshare, olefin continued to gain against polyester. By 2001, it had 62% of the business versus 57% in 1999. Most of olefin's increase was reflected in a polyester decline.

Turning to the first quarter data for 2002, sales were up slightly from the poor showing of the previous quarter and not too far behind the corresponding period of 2000.

Insofar as fiber's dependence on nonwovens for business, the picture is basically the same as it has been. Olefin depended on nonwovens producers for 69% of its shipments during the first quarter of 2002. For polyester, on the other hand, nonwovens absorbed slightly less than 14% of the domestic shipments. Which is, of course, another way of saying that the end use pattern for polyester is much more diversified than that for olefin.

In the past, sales of nonwovens have tended to be higher than sales to the conventional textile markets (woven goods, knit goods, carpets). But, in the early months of 2002 the picture changed. Comparing the January-March 2002 period with the corresponding months of 2001, sales of olefin and polyester staple to the conventional markets increased 13%, while sales to the nonwovens industry increased only 4%. Not too much should be made of one quarter's figures, but it is certainly something to watch as the year progresses.

Fiberfill Notes

The fiberfill market took a tumble to 389 million pounds of polyester last year, a decline of 64 million pounds or 14% from 2000, when shipments were a record 453 million pounds. In the first quarter of 2002, however, shipments rose to 96 million pounds, which, while far from a record, suggests that some life is coming back into the market.

Fiber Shipments

 1999 2000 2001 Change:

Olefin 454 493 466 +12/3%
Ployester 276 265 240 -36/13%
Rayon 64 66 60 -4/7%

Total 794 824 766 -28/4%

Source: Fiber Economics Bureau

David Harrison, now retired, spent mast of his working life in the man-made fiber and textile industries. A former director of member services at INDA, he also spent a number of years in consulting work, where he served clients in the soft goods industry.
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Comment:Fiber sales drop: shipments to nonwovens decreased to 756 million pounds last year. (Fibers Quarter).
Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
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