Fiber Year 2011: textile industry experiences largest growth in 25 years

May 17, 2011 – The world textile industry in 2010 has experienced the most potent growth in twenty-five years. Manufacturing volumes of natural and manmade fibers rocketed upwards by 8.6%, or 6.4 million tonnes, at 80.8 million tonnes. This corresponds to an average per capita consumption of 11.8 kg.

Thus, an average annual fiber growth of 3.4% in this decade compares to a yearly population rise of 1.2% in that time frame.

While cellulosic and synthetic fiber segments both produced double-digit growth, natural fiber expansion was content with a lean 2.2% expansion.

All major manmade fibers with the exception of acrylics were lifted at double-digit rates. Polyester industrial filament yarn even jumped up by spectacular 37%. Viscose fibers produced a record-breaking growth of 17%.

A historical price explosion for cotton with a new all-time high on December 21 at 186 U.S. cents per pound, more than duplication from August, has led to generally surging fiber raw material prices. To a certain extent, it has also favored the usage of competing fibers at comparatively lower costs.

More importantly, world textile industry has come to the conclusion that times of low-priced cotton are seemingly over. Cotton stocks are predicted to remain below the long-term average and future outlook is rather depressed. Although next season’s acreage is anticipated to strongly expand yielding a large crop next season, future expansion will be constricted by limitations from arable land to secure food security and water. Hence, two fiber types will have the best of all growth opportunities – polyester and viscose.

Another driving force for growth, although comparatively small-sized in volume terms, will be carbon fiber. This technologically advanced fiber will continue to produce double-digit growth rates for the years to come. Trendsetting developments in the aircraft and automotive industries may spur future demand.

The previous year’s rapid rise of demand was first of all result of the global economic recovery. Increasing incomes, lower unemployment and rising consumer confidence have led to higher expenditures for clothing and increasing demand in significant industries for technical textiles.

Thus, textile and industrial applications have enjoyed encouraging growth. Minor flaw was the performance in the carpet business that was still suffering from the financial crisis, revival of business was a little time-delayed.

However, last year’s performance was increasingly burdened with steadily rising inflation rates in emerging countries, due to higher food prices and energy costs in particular. On the one hand, it may cause a new increase in wages. On the other hand, it has definitely resulted in surging investments in new machinery. We have seen above-average installations of new machinery in cotton and manmade fiber spinning as well as processing. Instead of accumulating cash flow surpluses, it seemed to be more appealing to switch to working capitel and order new equipment for expansion or modernization.

Global textile machinery manufacturing industry was not prepared for this run on new orders all of a sudden. This has resulted in delayed time of delivery far above the ordinary level. While an outstanding order backlog appears to be good news at first sight, it may also lead to an exceptional redirection of urgently required demand for capital goods.

Thus, a considerable step-up in the trade of second hand machines has been observed. A first wave of trading used equipment was noticeable around the abolition of textile quotas. At that time, machinery from the western hemisphere was moving East. At the moment, extensive movement is existing within the Asian region.

The investment boom provides the ground for assuming that market actors are confident about the further trend of business. Affiliated with expected good economic growth the increase in textile consumption should continue in 2011.

An exclusive extended summary of the report will be featured in the June issue of International Fiber Journal.