World fiber production 2018
The Fiber Year 2019
The worsening economic climate has taken its toll on fiber production that has experienced the slowest growth in 3 years at 1 % to about 106 million tons (Fig. 1). Natural fibers (share 31 %) softened 1.8 % as result of lower cotton cultivation while the man-made fiber business continued its 10-year expansion. Growth of 2.2 % at synthetic fibers (share 63 %) was once again outpaced by cellulosic fibers (share 6 %) lifting output by 2.7 %. Cellulosic fibers steadily grew between 2010 and 2018 with a CAGR of +6.1 %.
© Foto: The Fiber Year
Fig. 2 Annual dynamics in fiber consumption
The yarn segment has delivered quite oppositional results with filament yarns recording the highest growth rate in 3 years (+3.5 % to 48 million tons; PET +4.0 %, PA -0.5 %, CV +1.8 %, PP +1.5 %) and remaining in positive territory since financial crisis. Meanwhile, spun yarn manufacturing turned negative after a 2-year growth period (-1 % to 39 million tons). Hence, filaments have not only maintained their majority share in the 5th year in a row but further strengthened their position to hold around 55 % by now.
The highest growth rates has been seen for carbon fibers (>10 %), aramid fibers and elastane (spandex) fibers (+6 %; China + 25 %). Total elastane production was 850,000 tons. 77 % of elastane capacity is in China (5 % Japan/USA/Europe, 18 % ROW).
Dynamics in nonwovens and unspun applications once again experienced a faster speed of expansion than fibers and yarns in the 5th consecutive year at 4 % to 18.4 million tons, even if dynamics have lost steam as last year’s increase meant the slowest growth in 6 years.
Overall, a downward tendency in terms of fiber market growth is more or less visible in the recent 6 years (Fig. 2). While the expansion in 2012 marked an increase of nearly 6 %, deceleration has been noticed since, to come down to 1.5 % in 2018. This length of annual decelerations in textile consumption is quite exceptional and unique in the 21st century.
© Foto: The Fiber Year
Fig. 3 Market share of major fiber types
Throwing a glance at the fiber material composition reveals that output has been steadily progressing in favor of man-made fibers, in particular polyester and viscose fibers, the only mainstream man-made fiber with non-stop annual growth after financial crisis. 2018 for the first time polyester staple fiber production decreased by 0.6 %. The perception of fibers being predominantly of man-made origin is well-known. What is new and probably the first time in history is that the share of synthetic fibers remained in the second sequenced year below its peak from 2015/16 while the relative position of cellulosic fibers arrived at the highest level in 27 years (Fig. 3). The long-term view of the global fiber market development shows drastic changes at expense of natural fibers while manmade fibers tripled their share to nearly 70 % by now.
More details can be found in “The Fiber Year 2019“, which is available for CHF 650 (single user) or CHF 1200 (company), respectively.