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Staple fiber shipments to nonwovens unchanged.

Staple Fiber Shipments To Nonwovens Unchanged

Sales of polyester, olefin and rayon staple to producers of nonwoven roll goods in the first quarter of 1990 totaled 130 million pounds, virtually the same as in the immediately preceding quarter but 11 million pounds (8%) under the figure for the corresponding quarter of 1989.

Disappointing though these results may be, the nonwovens industry held up considerably better than did the conventional markets for the three fibers (broad weaving, knitting and carpets) Compared with the fourth quarter of last year, sales of fiber to the nonwovens industry were unchanged, while sales to other textile markets were down 7%, almost entirely due to sluggish shipments of PET.

Comparing the first quarter this year with the same 1989 period, again the declines in the traditional markets were steeper than those in nonwovens. For example, first quarter shipments to the nonwovens industry were down 11 million pounds (8%), mostly due to a continuing erosion of rayon staple shipments. But business in the conventional markets was off by 13% (81 million pounds), with poor sales of polyester accounting for 68 million pounds (84%) of the decline.

Looking at the individual fibers comprising the nonwovens total, polyester still dominates the business, although its share in the first quarter this year dropped to 49%, compared with 51% in the fourth quarter and 48% in the corresponding 1989 period. Olefin, on the other hand, which had been losing market share to polyester for some time, took a bigger piece of the business in the first quarter 1990. Its share rose to 36% from 33% in both the first and fourth quarters of last year.

Finally, rayon's market share continues its long-term decline. While recent precise figures for rayon staple are not available for disclosure reasons, it appears that the fiber's share of market in the flattest period dropped to about 15%, compared with 16% in the previous quarter and 19% in the first quarter 1990.

Because its markets are generally holding up better than the conventional textile markets, nonwovens producers are continuing to increase in importance as customers for the producers of the three fibers. In the latest quarter, nonwoven roll goods producers accounted for 19% of all domestic shipments of the three fibers. For the year 1989 the nonwovens share was 18%.

Naturally, the shares for individual fibers vary significantly. Olefin relies on nonwovens for half of its business. For rayon the figure is about 25%. Polyester (which ships huge quantities to the weaving, knitting and fiberfill trades) gets only about 13% of its orders from nonwovens. Yet even that percentage is on the rise, as a year ago nonwovens provided 12% of PET's shipments.

A Very Slow Fiberfill Market

If the nonwovens business could be characterized as sluggish, the polyester fiberfill market was considerably worse. Sales in the first quarter were 76 million pounds, a drop of 10 million pounds (12%) from the previous quarter and 16% under the figure of 90 million pounds recorded a year ago. While it is very early in the year to project annual figures, it seems unlikely that 1990 sales will match the 350 million pounds of fiberfill shipped last year.


PHOTO : PET VS. RAYON VS. OLEFIN (millions of lbs.)
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Author:Harrison, David
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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