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The U.S. and European market for industrial durables.

The U.S. And European Market For Industrial Durables

If the durable nonwovens market in Europe is to maintain the high growth rates of the 1980's into the next decade, new applications are needed. According to a recently released report from Frost & Sullivan, New York, NY, never before has research, development and strong marketing been so important to this $2.1 billion market.

Several sectors of the durable nonwovens market, such as interlinings, are now relatively mature and growth rates are forecasts to slow down. The report does predict high growth in sectors where either technical or market innovation allows a nonwoven product to create a new market or to replace a conventional material in an existing market.

One such area highlighted by the report is the use of nonwovens in household fabrics or fashion curtains. Frost & Sullivan research reveals that fabrics based on hydroentanglement technology could be marketed as limited life household furnishings, possibly coordinating with trends in the clothing fashion industry or offering seasonal changes in the home.

Another area where potentially large amounts of nonwovens could be used is in agriculture and horticulture, if they are used as a mulch.

The largest and most mature market for durable nonwoven fabrics is in needlefelt flooring with production centered in Belgium. In 1989 the market for needled flooring was $557.1 million and this is forecast to rise to $711.3 million in 1994.

Although fiberfill wadding is also a mature market, it is projected to maintain good growth rates in the early 90's, with sales reaching an estimated $675 million in 1994.

Uses for nonwoven fabrics within the automotive industry are increasing, particularly for internal trim areas, and this growth is expected to continue as these fabrics are also applied to seatbacks and headliners. The market is centered in West Germany and is set to rise in value from $242 million in 1989 to $351.2 million in 1994.

The construction industry provided the fastest growing market for durable nonwoven fabrics until recently but, the report says, this will continue to grow only by substitution of mainly spunbonded fabrics for lower performance membranes. The rise in value of the market from $311.9 million in 1989 to $385.2 million in 1994 reflected the low growth rates within the construction industry as a whole.

The major European market for durable nonwoven fabric is West Germany, which accounts for an estimated 27.7% of volume and 27.3% of value consumption The total market is forecast to grow from 148,000 tons in 1989 to 192,000 tons, worth $759 million, by 1994. Particularly strong growth is expected in German demand for geotextiles.

Important growth areas in France, the second largest single market, will be needlefelt floorcoverings and the automotive industry. By 1994, total consumption will have risen to 154,000 tons. The U.K. market for durable nonwoven fabrics is expected to increase from 107,000 tons in 1989 to 141,600 tons in 1994. Highest growth rates will be in the construction industry and in geotextiles, but needlefelts and waddings, because of the size of the existing markets, will also contribute to an essentially buoyant market.

The Italian market for nonwovens will grow strongly during the next four years, increasing towards the levels now seen in the other major European economies. Italian nonwovens companies have begun to invest heavily in the newer production technologies such as spunbonded and hydroentangled and national consumption is forecast to increase to 100,900 tons in 1994.

Consumption in the Benelux countries will be close to the average for Europe, increasing to approximately 65,000 tons by 1994. However, above average demand is likely for tufted carpets and geotextiles.

Imports will be an important element for the growth in demand for durable nonwovens in Spain, where consumption is forecast to reach 54,000 tons by 1994.

Meanwhile, In The U.S....

The 1989 market of $802 million in durable nonwoven fabrics in the U.S. will reach $1.14 billion by 1994, predicts another Frost & Sullivan report. Looked at another way, there were 1.4 billion sq. yards of these fabrics shipped in 1989 and this will exceed 1.75 billion sq. yards by 1994. (These figures, incidentally, do not include the synthetics used in highloft or fiberfill applications, which are also examined in the study. This end use represents another $280 million in volume and 350 million pounds, seen expanding to $341 million and 411 million pounds by 1994.)

"The nonwovens industry in general is on a track of solid gains in a majority of the major end-use areas," observes the report. "Geotextiles, although slightly off their pace of the last few years, will continue to grow at historically above-average rates. Filtration and single ply roofing are also growing at above-average rates for the nonwovens industry, while other end-uses (apparel interlinings, home furnishings) are either mature or suffering from the current economic slowdown."

Frost & Sullivan picks dry filtration as the fastest growing end use, which clean-air legislation should help, as demand for hot gas filters will balloon in an effort to meet new effluent standards. Fiber use is predominantly polypropylene, which constitutes 34% of the consumption in dry filtration. This sector represented $102 million and 38.4 million sq. yards in 1989 and is forecast to be a $171 million, 64.7 million sq. yards end use by 1994.

The federal government seeking ways to reduce the budget deficit, is asking the states to bear more of the burden for transportation construction, which will slow down growth in geotextiles below the 9% averaged in the past two years. However, geotextiles will still outperform the market, on average, as uses expand from roadways to reinforcement of slopes, drainage systems, as pond liners, landfill caps and railway ballast reinforcement. Polypropylene is the most common material comprising 52% of the sector, followed by polyester, at 37%. Geotextiles made up a $114 million category in 1989, some 196 million sq. yards; a $167 million, 288 million sq. yards level is for seen for 1994.

Single-ply roofing, the remaining high-growth sector, "is tied closely, but not exclusively, to the construction industry," said the report. Fortunately, although construction may be in a slump, 70% of the single-ply roofing market derives from replacement sales and Frost & Sullivan says it is the replacement orders that will drive this submarket. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) accounts for 41% of the material use, though modified bitumen is a faster-growing segment. A relatively small portion of the durable nonwovens market, single-ply roofing represented $60 million in 1989, a consumption of 114 million sq. yards; by 1994, nearly $88 million worth will be stretched over buildings, using up 167 million sq. yards of material.

Mature areas - read "slow growth" - include home furnishings ($134 million in 1989 and a predicted $156 million by 1994), apparel interlinings ($133 million in 1989, expected to become $166 million by the end of the forecast period); and carpeting (where $79 million was invested in 1989 and $90 million is likely to go by 1994). Automotive fabrics, a $137 million end-use in 1989, are dealt with as well; the report says this category will roll up to $252 million by 1994.

Suppliers are also considered, the study providing profiles of major vendors and their market shares. DuPont and Hoechst Celanese are shown to dominate the market.
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Title Annotation:Frost and Sullivan Inc. reports
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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