Spotlight on Spunlace

With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic still raging on around the world, demand for wipes—especially disinfecting and hand sanitizing wipes—remains high, which has sparked high demand for the materials that make them such as spunlace nonwovens.

Spunlace or hydroentangled nonwovens in wipes consumed a projected total of 877,700 tons of material worldwide in 2020. This is up from 777,700 tons in 2019, according to the latest data from the Smithers’ market report – The Future of Global Nonwoven Wipes to 2025.

Total value (at constant prices) rose from $11.71 billion in 2019, to $13.08 billion in 2020. According to Smithers, the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic means that even if nonwovens wipes had previously been considered a discretionary purchase in household budgets, moving forward they will be considered essential. Smithers consequently forecasts future growth of 8.8% year-on-year (by volume). This will drive global consumption to 1.28 billion tonnes in 2025, with a value of $18.1 billion.

“The impact of Covid-19 has lessened competition among spunlaced producers in much the same way it has on other nonwoven technology platforms,” says David Price, partner, Price Hanna Consultants. “High demand for spunlaced nonwoven substrates among all wipe markets has existed since mid Q1 2020. This has been particularly true for disinfectant wipes but is also present for baby and personal care wipes.”

Price says that global spunlaced production lines have been operating at full capacity since the second quarter of 2020. “We expect full capacity utilization of spunlaced nonwoven assets through 2021 and possibly into the first half of 2022 due to the effects of Covid-19.”

Serkan Gogus, CEO of Mogul, a Turkish nonwovens manufacturer that produces parallel laid and crosslap spunlace, says the pandemic has caused a huge demand increase with spunlace, especially as usage of disinfectant wipes significantly increased. He believes the pandemic created some habit of using wet wipes and some of the demand will retain even after the pandemic is over.

“For some period, supply couldn’t meet demand,” he says, adding that the company is hearing significant capacities will come onstream in the near future. “We’ll end up with fierce competition in the coming years.”

Paul Harmon, vice president of product, HHS, Berry Global, says the current global spunlace market remains tight with demand for cleaning and healthcare substrate continuing to be strong. “We have seen several announcements over the past few months of investments by spunlace producers indicating confidence in the market,” he adds. “We have also seen extended equipment lead times from all of the major players. There is no question that Covid-19 has changed the market in the short to mid-term. We have seen strong evidence of consumer behavior changes indicating that increased use of disposable cleaning wipes has longevity.”

Read more: Spotlight on Spunlace

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