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Fibers for nonwovens down for first three quarters of 1992.

After declining for three consecutive quarters and reaching a two-year low in the second quarter of last year, shipments of olefin, polyester and rayon staple fiber rebounded sharply in the third quarter of the year, reaching a total of 148 million pounds. This figure represented an increase of 18 million pounds (14%) over the 130 million pounds shipped in the second quarter of 1992. Compared with the corresponding quarter of 1991, however, the latest period was a decline of four million pounds or 3%.

Olefin, which had been gaining market share until it dropped off in the second quarter, regained its share in the third quarter when 68 million pounds of the fiber were shipped, up 10 million pounds (17%) from the preceding quarter but still three million pounds (4%) under the quantity sold a year earlier. Olefin now controls 46% of the business, up from the previous quarter and the same as its market share a year earlier.

Polyester also had a good quarter, increasing sales to 64 million pounds compared with the 57 million pounds sold in the second quarter. However, its market share fell slightly to 43%. Polyester sales in the latest period were somewhat (two million pounds) ahead of the corresponding quarter of 1991.

The rayon business improved some in the third quarter, when an estimated 16 million pounds were sold, compared with 15 million pounds in the previous quarter and 19 million in the corresponding period of 1991. Domestically produced rayon staple (which is what the available figures cover) has for some time been a minor participant in the market, with a current share of about 11%.

As mentioned previously, there are significant quantities of imported rayon used in nonwovens and if these were counted, rayon's participation in nonwovens would increase to perhaps 15%, with corresponding decreases in market share for the other two fibers. Courtaulds' rayon staple plant in Canada (the only one in that country) has been closed. That plant was the major source of the imported rayon staple used on nonwovens in the U.S., but the company said it had adequate capacity in its two other rayon staple plants (one in Alabama and the other in England) to supply its customers.

Looking at the results for the first three quarters of 1992, total shipments have amounted to 417 million pounds, 3% below the same period of 1991. The comparison looks like this (in million pounds):
 Olefin PET Rayon (E) Total
Jan-Sept 1991 200 177 53 430
Jan-Sept 1992 194 176 47 417
Change (lbs.) -6 -1 -6 -13
% -3% -- -11% -3%

On the basis of these figures and assuming an "average" quarter in the last reporting period, shipments for the year will probably fall in the 550-560 million pound range, which would make 1992 the third best year for the industry The record was set in 1991 at 579 million pounds, and the second best year was 1989, when shipments reached 565 million pounds.

Fiberfill Sales

Shipments of polyester fiberfill started off the year with a bang--first quarter shipments were 109 million pounds. But in the two following quarters, sales fell to 98 million in each period, with the result that year-to-date shipments total 304 million pounds, 4% under the 317 million pounds shipped in January-September 1991. Even so, this should be the second best year--somewhere in the 405 million pound area. That would compare with a record 430 million pounds of fiberfill sold in 1991.
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Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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