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Market report of viscose fibre.

Market Report of Viscose Fibre

There is good demand for viscose fibre (rayon yarn) in Pakistan, despite of the reason that its yarn is 10% higher in price, than cotton yarn. Its use is expected to increase over periods of time because of its softness of moisture absorption and good blending properties which used with cotton yarn in the end-products.


The first commercial production of rayon fibre in the USA was in 1910 by the American Viscose Company. It was the first man-made fibre. Because it is largely cellulose in content, it greatly resembles cotton in the chemical properties.

By using different chemicals and manufacturing techniques, two basic types of rayon were developed. They were viscose rayon and supremenium rayon. Most of the production was of the viscose rayon type. The cupramonium rayon was stronger, with a crisper hand or texture, capable of being made unto more drapable fabrics because of its finer filaments, and was more expensive. Its major end uses were linings and light-weight dresses and blouses. Bernberg Industries made this type of rayon until 1975. Today, only viscose rayon is being producted in USA.


General: Rayon is a manufactured fibre composed of regenerated cellulose, as well as manufactured fibre composed of regenerated cellulose, in which substituents have replaced not more than 15% of the hydrogens of the hydroexl groups. The fibre has a serrated round shape with smooth surface.

Favourable: Viscose rayon is a medium-weight fibre with fair to good durability. It is hydrophilic (11% moisture regain), and while absorbing moisture quickly, it dries slowly. Thus, it is not as good for warm weather as cotton or flax. The fibre is washable under proper care conditions and is dry cleanable. There are no static or pilling problems.

Unfavourable: Viscose rayon loses 30 to 50% of its strength when wet. Thus requiring great caution in laundering. It recovers strength when dry. It has very poor elasticity and resiliency. It also shrinks appreciably from washing.


The end uses for viscose rayon include a wide range of products in the apparel, home furnishing and industrial areas (dresses, shirts, lingerie, jackets, slip covers, draperies, medical products, non-woven fabrics etc.).

Viscose Versus Polyester

Viscose fibre (rayon fibre) is a cellulosic fibre manufactured from wood pulp generally from bamboo pulp. It has very good "hand feel" and moisture absorbing properties. Regular viscose fibre does not have high wet strength but the polymeric variety of viscose fibre has this property also. Therefore, regular viscose fibre is used primarily as a blending medium with synthetic fibres, mainly with polyester fibre as the latter provides the wet strength, wear resistance and non-crease properties and the viscose fibre provides "hand feel" and moisture absorbing properties which are poor in polyester.

Whereas, the polymeric variety because of its high strength property, is used as a primary fibre and finds main application in substituting part of the high price of cotton. The substitution by polynosic fibre is increasing.

World Market Situation

In the last five years, the production of viscose (rayon fibre) has increased fastly due to high prices of cotton, the consumption of rayon viscose fibre has also increased at high rate which is manifested in its current higher price.

Presently, the world average, consumption of man-made cellulosic (viscose fibre) in developed countries is much high than that in the developing countries, the world average being 20% while the consumption in the developing countries ranges from 5% to 10%. This indicates that the consumption of man-made cellulosic (viscose fibre) is quite high in the developed countries. It is blended with cotton yarn fabric used for end-products (T-shirts, sweat shirts and track suits) manufactured in the developed countries where consumption of cotton is quite low. In USA the consumption of cotton is only 30% while that of man-made fibre is 70%. But in a developing country like Indo-Pakistan which grows cotton, as well as, produces man-made fibres, the consumption of cotton is 85% man-made cellulosics 10% and synthetics only 5%.

The trend of higher usage of man-made cellulosics and lower usage of cotton is expected to be followed even in the developing countries, as the cotton becomes dearer day by day for poor income group. Furthermore, the need for cellulosics is increasing higher in developing countries also as most of these countries are located in tropical areas. So the consumption of viscose fibre in the developing countries will undoubtedly increase substantially in future.

The growth of viscose fibre industry in India also substantiate this view point. The production of viscose fibre in India and Bangladesh has increased from 87,583 tons in 1984 to 150,000 tons due to increasing demand of rayon fibre. Pakistan having no commercial production of bamboo tree is not in a position to establish the units to produce viscose fibre, viscose yarn products are mainly depending on import of cellulosic (viscose fibre) which is converted into yarn through spinning processes.

Against this Pakistan grows good varieties of cotton of over 1 crore bales now, its 70 per cent share is consumed in the domestic industry and 30% is exported to abroad.

The current world population has reached to over 4 billion and is expected that it will be about 6.4 billion in the year 2000, at a growth rate of 1.9% per year. The average per capita fibre consumption per year is expected to increase at the rate of about 2% per year from the figure of about 15 lbs in early 1970's. On this basis, the world fibre demand is expected to increase from 52.9 billion lbs in 1975 to 81.8 billion lbs in 1985 and to an astronomical high of 135 billion lbs in the year 2000.

The major portion of this growth is expected to be satisfied by the synthetics to the extent of about 40% in 1985 and 50% in the year 2000, i.e. about 33 billion lbs in 1985 and 68 billion lbs in the year 2000. Its share in 1975 was only about 30%.

The second largest production would be of cotton, which with the present average i.e. 80 million acres, was 31 billion lbs in 1985, and it would go up to 37 billion lbs in the year 2000, considering the improvement in the field of 1.1% per year, based on past experience.

The current acreage has been assumed since the primary usage of land would be to produce food crops for the 2.4 billion months to be fed by the year 2000 than to produce cotton. In fact, encroachment of the land being currently used for cotton for growing food crops is expected, since the additional potential arable land is very limited. It is, therefore, realistic to assume that the acreage for cotton will not increase with more demand of man-made fibres.

Consequently a gap of about 18 billion lbs in the year 1985 and 34 billion lbs in the year 2000 has to be fulfilled by other fibres, the major portion of which would be viscose fibre. The current production of viscose and acetate fibres is about 9 billion lbs and so an additional 10 billion lbs of rayon fibre has to be produced by 1992 and about 20 to 25 billion lbs by the year 2000. The present production capacity of viscose fibre achieved is about 5.7 billion lbs per year and so it has been increased by 150% by 1985 and by about 300% by the year 2000.

Obviously, the major share of this increase has gone to the developing countries rather than developed countries. This trend has already set and new plants have come up recently in South Korea and Thailand, which produce about 20 billion lbs each, whereas new plants are not being set up in the developed countries.

Pakistan Market

The entire requirement of viscose fibre is met through import as there is no local manufacturers in the country. No necessity was felt for any plant, because raw material of viscose fibre is soft wood preferably bamboo which can not commercially be produced as its growth requires abundant water and hot climate. Pakistan no doubt is hot but do not have sufficient rain water necessary for growth of bamboo.

Climate of Pakistan is most suitable for cotton growth of various varieties both for short and long staple fibre is consumed to produce coarse, medium and fine yarn. During 1988-89 cotton production recorded at 1426000 tonnes out of this 758000 tonnes cotton yarn production was registered which means 88 per cent raw cotton locally consumed and rest 12% is exported. Production of man-made (synthetic yarn) both filament and staple fibre (Di-acetate, Nylon, and Polyester) increased from 24801 MT to 55944MT (126%) during last six years. Man-made (synthetic and acetate) yarn are used for blending with cotton yarn for fashion-wears fetch good prices in the international market. Viscose-fibre average CIF import price is Rs. 33.25/kg., whereas the wholesale average price of cotton yarn of various counts prevails to Rs. 30.37/kg thus cheaper than viscose fibre by about 10%.


The demand and consumption of viscose fibre has increased progressively over the past ten years. Its use is very frequent in high percentage both in woven and knitted fabrics the products of which are very much popular in European countries having softness and moisture absorption properties. The demand growth during last 10 years (1981-91) has been recorded an average of about 21 per cent per year.

The import of viscose fibre into Pakistan were as follows:
 Quantity (%) Increase
 Year (M.T.) decrease
 1981-82 7,964 --
 1982-83 10,987 37.9
 1983-84 15,242 38.7
 1984-85 9,326 -38.8
 1985-86 8,906 - 4.5
 1986-87 6,662 -25.6
 1987-88 17,683 167.0
 1988-89 10,750 -39.2
 1989-90 17,364 61.5
 1990-91 19,865 14.4

Due to fashion changes and other factors in the international market import of viscose fibre in Pakistan remained very unstable. During 1981-82 import was at the stage of 7964 M.T. which, however, jumped during 1982-83 and 1983-84 by 37.9 & 38.7% respectively. From 1984-87 import was slashed down by 23%. It was picked up substantially (by 167%) during 1987-88. Again went down by 39.2% during 1988-89, but during 1989-90 and 1990-91 recorded increase by 61.5 and 14.4 per cent respectively.


There is good demand for viscose fibre (rayon yarn) in Pakistan, despite of the reason that its yarn is 10% higher in price, than cotton yarn. Its use is expected to increase over periods of time because of its softness of moisture absorption and good blending properties which used with cotton yarn in the end-products.
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Author:Islam, Mazharul
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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