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CARY - The capacity of nonwovens in North America reached 5.540 million tonnes in 2021, an increase of 1.8% over the previous year, according to the latest INDA report.

The findings are part of INDA's ninth edition of the annual North American Nonwovens Supply Report, which, containing a range of key metrics to assist in strategic planning and investments, also shows that North American imports, in tonnage, increased 1.6% in 2021 as exports decreased 6.0%.

Based on extensive research, producer surveys and interviews with industry leaders, the report provides an overall view of North American supply, including the key metrics of capacity, production and operating rates, in addition to regional trade, through the year 2021. The 75-page report contains 36 figures and 11 tables.

“One of INDA’s key services is to provide valuable data and actionable industry information to enhance decision making in our capital-intensive industry. This report is the most complete and accurate portrayal for both rolled goods for sale and also material produced for internal consumption in North America. It also presents the industry operating rates in key areas. This is the essential metric on supply/demand balance essential for strategic planning and business investment decisions,” said Dave Rousse, INDA President.

The report—and the quarterly INDA Market Pulse and monthly Price Trends Summary—are provided to the nearly 400 INDA member companies and associates as part of their membership. The data gathered for this annual report serves as the foundation for the both the biannual Global Nonwoven Market Report published in September of 2021 and the biannual North American Nonwovens Industry Outlook, which will be updated and published this fall.

Findings

North American capacity continues to increase with investments being made across all the processes and for a variety of end-uses. Production output exceeded that of new capacity, resulting in the industry’s nameplate capacity utilization increasing year-over-year, for the fourth consecutive year.

In 2021, capacity of nonwovens in North America reached 5.540 million tonnes, an increase from the previous year of 1.8% (net growth of 98,300 tonnes) and an improvement over the previous year’s pandemic-impacted growth rate of 0.5%.

The industry was able to quickly react to the demand for electrostatically charged fine-fibre meltblown used in the manufacture of respirators and pleated face masks. Twenty-two meltblown lines were added in 2020, resulting in 7.2% year-over-year growth rate for meltblown. In 2021, another 12 lines were added, resulting in 8.5% annual growth over 2020.

North American imports, in tonnage, increased 1.6% in 2021 as exports decreased 6.0%. Imports were led by China accounting for 39% of the imports into North America followed by India (14%) and Germany (9%). Even with the significant shifts in North American trade dynamics, nonwovens tend to stay where they are produced, with the net trade balance (imports less exports, 422,100 tonnes) accounting for less than ten percent of the region’s capacity

“This is a great time to be in nonwovens,” said Brad Kalil, Director of Market Intelligence & Economic Insights, INDA, “and will continue to be so, as demand, and correspondingly localized supply to meet that demand, continues to increase. The nonwovens industry has responded to the pandemic and will continue to provide materials that keep the surfaces we touch clean, protect the air we breathe, and provide a barrier to keep our bodies safe. The industry has responded by investing in new assets to ensure the steady flow of these needed materials. Across the two-year period, 2020 and 2021, the nonwovens industry has publicly announced capacity investments of $203 million. For this year and next for the industry has announced capacity investments of $686 million starting up in North America.”

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