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Fibers for nonwovens recovering slightly.

Fibers For Nonwovens Recovering Slightly

first quarter man-made staple shipments to nonwovens customers are up 11% from a year earlier, but 3% under the final 1990 quarter On the whole, the year has started off pretty well. In the first quarter of this year, domestic producers of olefin, polyester and rayon staple shipped a total of 139 million pounds of fibers to their nonwoven roll goods customers. This represented a decline of four million pounds (3%) compared with the immediately preceding quarter. However, compared with the corresponding quarter one year ago the latest figure represents an increase of 14 million pounds, or 11%. The latest figure consisted of 63 million pounds of olefin, 57 million pounds of polyester and approximately 19 million pounds of rayon staple. As noted previously, precise figures on rayon staple sales by trade classification are no longer available for disclosure reasons.

The nonwovens business continues to hold up better than the conventional markets for the three fibers. Compared with the most recent quarter, first quarter sales this year were down 6% for the other markets, compared with 3% for nonwovens. Comparing the first quarter this year with 1990, nonwovens were up 11% while conventional markets declined 8%.

Olefin staple continues to lead the way in the nonwovens industry, with shipments reaching 63 million pounds, a new high. Olefin's share of the market rose to 45% from 42% in both the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 1990.

Olefin's gain is reflected in polyester's loss. Sales in the latest period dropped to 57 million pounds, nine million pounds less than the immediately preceding period but three million pounds better than in the first quarter of last year. In terms of market share, however, polyester dropped to 41% in the most recent quarter, its lowest share of the business since the second quarter of 1988.

Rayon staple shipments by domestic producers were approximately 19 million pounds, 12% up from the final three months of 1990. There are, however, substantial quantities of imported rayon staple going into nonwovens markets--and these are not reflected in the data reported by the Fiber Economics Bureau, which counts only shipments by domestic producers of man-made fibers.

Last year, imported fiber represented about one-third of all the rayon staple used in the nonwovens business. Specifically, domestic producers sold about 72 million pounds to roll goods manufacturers while imported fiber used by those same customers amounted to some 37 million pounds, for a total rayon staple use in 1990 of 109 million pounds. If the same import ratio prevailed in the first quarter, then total use of rayon in that period was in the order of 28-29 million pounds (19 million domestic plus 9-10 million pounds of imports). So far as is known, use of imported polyester for nonwovens is small, while imports of olefin staple for any use are negligible. Thus, the data for polyester and olefin shipments to nonwovens are broadly representative of the total market, but the rayon staple figures portray only about two-thirds of the total.

Olefin staple depends heavily upon nonwovens for its business--last quarter 65% of all olefin staple used was consumed in that market. In the case of polyester, nonwovens are a good but by no means dominant market outlet--only 12% of polyester shipments went to nonwovens. In rayon's case, nonwovens absorb about one quarter of domestic shipments.

After a surprisingly strong fourth quarter 1990 shipment figure of 101 million pounds, sales of polyester fiberfill in the first quarter dropped slightly (4%) to 97 million pounds. However, the most recent figure represented a 7% increase over the first quarter of last year. In short, both fiberfill and nonwovens have gotten off to a reasonably good start if first quarter shipments are any indicator. [Graph Omitted]
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Title Annotation:Fiber Quarter; statistics on man-made fibers usage in the nonwoven fabrics industry
Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:Lasting changes ... or, will you still love me tomorrow?
Next Article:The top companies in the worldwide nonwovens industry.

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