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Sales of fibers for nonwovens decline.

U.S. fiber producers' shipments of olefin, polyester (PET) and rayon staple to nonwoven roll goods producers in the second quarter of this year dropped to 131 million pounds from 139 million pounds in the immediately preceding three months. Compared with the corresponding quarter of 1991, the latest figure represents a decline of 8% or 11 million pounds.

The April-June quarter this year was the poorest since the first quarter of 1990, when shipments amounted to 125 million pounds. After that low point, shipments generally tended upward until hitting a peak of 152 million pounds in the third quarter of last year. But since then, sales have declined in each quarter--and the latest figure is 14% lower than the peak.

Very slow sales of olefin were the reason for the most recent decline in shipments. At 58 million pounds in April-June 1992, olefin sales were off 15% (1 0 million pounds) from the first quarter and almost as much (13%) when compared with the corresponding 1991 quarter. The latest olefin figure was the lowest since the first quarter of 1990, when 52 million pounds were shipped. Olefin's share of the total, which had been moving up in recent quarters, has now declined to 44%.

Polyester sales, on the other hand, turned in a fairly impressive performance in the latest quarter. They had been declining in the face of olefin competition for several quarters, but this time they amounted to 58 million pounds, up three million pounds (5%) from the previous quarter and equal to the second quarter figure a year ago. Polyester's share of the market thus rose to 44%, restoring it--at least temporarily--to parity with olefin.

Estimated sales of rayon staple dropped off some in the second quarter, but the fiber retained its market share of approximately 12%. Rayon is the only one of the three fibers where imports for the nonwovens trade are a significant factor--and imports are not included in the figures presented here. If imported rayon were included, rayon's share of the market would rise to perhaps 15%, with corresponding reductions in olefin and polyester percentages.

Looking at the cumulative data, shipments in the first six months of 1992 were 270 million pounds, a drop of nine million pounds (3%) from the first half of last year. Olefin sales in the first half this year dropped to 126 million pounds from 130 million pounds, also a fall of 3%. Polyester sales, at 11 million pounds, were down two million pounds or 2%, while rayon business was off three million pounds or 9%, although the drop would probably be less steep if imports were taken into account.

Even allowing for the slow start in the first half of the year, it is still possible for fiber sales to the nonwovens business to reach last year's figure--a record 579 million pounds. But it is not very likely; on current evidence it would seem that 1992 will go into the record books as the third best year for staple based nonwovens, trailing both last year's record and the 565 million pounds sold in 1989.

Fiberfill Sales Off

Polyester fiberfill sales in the second quarter were 98 million pounds, down 11 million pounds (10%) from the first quarter and 9% less than the 108 million pounds sold in the second quarter of 1991. For the year to date, the 1992 figure is 207 million pounds, compared with 204 million pounds, a slight increase of 1 %. Thus, there is a chance that 1992 might equal or exceed the 1991 fiberfill record of 430 million pounds.
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Title Annotation:nonwoven fabric sales for April-June quarter of 1992
Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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