Global nonwovens projected to reach $50.8 billion by 2020

The global nonwovens market is valued at $37.4 billion in 2015 and is projected to grow to $50.8 billion by 2020, according to a new study by Smithers Apex.

The Future of Global Nonwovens Markets to 2020 quantifies and forecasts the nonwovens market growth over the next five years based on extensive new primary research.

According to the report, the market is hampered by the slower than projected recovery of the global economy, with much of Europe still growing very slowly and even China with lower than historical growth rates. While global growth rates for nonwovens are still projected to be in the healthy 6–7% range, this does represent a slight decrease from previously projected rates.

Nonwovens had been a high growth market for decades prior to the global recession in 2008–2010. Nonwovens serve many different markets and, while some key end use markets were among the hardest hit in that economic climate, such as the construction and automotive sectors, others weathered the recession (and its aftermath) surprisingly well. The report found that agriculture applications, geotextiles, personal care wipes, hygiene applications and specialty disposables (such as table top and food pad substrates) all performed above average.

Raw materials for nonwovens are once again in a period of instability. Unexpected decreases in both petroleum prices and supply, as well as a stubborn slowdown in global textile demand, promises lower prices for both polymers and fibres. Polypropylene polymer is the largest single raw material used for global nonwovens in 2015. Figure 1 shows the raw materials split for global nonwovens in 2015.

Figure 1 Market share of raw materials for nonwovens, 2015 (by tonnes)

Source: Smithers Apex

The report shows significant differences in the major regional markets for airlaid nonwovens. North America has seen the most energetic recovery of the major global economies and its nonwovens industry has benefited. Building and roofing, agriculture, automotive applications, wipes and even hygiene are all contributing to market growth in this region.

Europe is still mired in an economic slowdown, with Italy, Spain and much of southern Europe all experiencing slower than expected growth, while Russia is experiencing slower growth due to political issues and collapsing energy prices.

Asia is still the fastest growing market for nonwovens, but for the first time in a decade, China's growth is slowing, which has slowed nonwovens growth for the entire region. Still, growth here is 50% higher than the next fastest growing region and potential remains extremely high.

Nonwovens remain a very desirable market, with growth rates between 6% and 7% through 2020. Although this represents a slowing in growth from earlier predictions, nonwovens will continue to be an important and attractive market where the largest end uses, such as hygiene, medical, building, roofing, automotive, agriculture and filtration are important global needs.

The Future of Global Nonwovens Markets to 2020 is available now for £4,200. For more information, please contact Stephen Hill on +44 (0) 1372 802025, or via e-mail