Covid-19 causes surge in demand for nonwoven wipes in 2020, 2021 and beyond, latest Smithers data reveals

Covid-19 causes surge in demand for nonwoven wipes in 2020, 2021 and beyond, latest Smithers data reveals

LEATHERHEAD, Surrey, UK and AKRON, Ohio, USA – November, 27 2020 – The global nonwoven wipes industry will reach $19.64 billion in 2020, as disinfecting and other nonwoven wipes are seen as essential tools to restrict the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

For disinfecting wipes tonnage growth in 2020 will be 36.8%, according to data from the new dedicated Smithers study – The Future of Global Nonwoven Wipes to 2025; with some producers reporting this would be over 200% if sufficient capacity was available.

The specific conditions of the Covid-19 outbreak means that demand for many wipes that have historically been are often seen as discretionary purchases, will remain recession-proof across the recovery period. Total market value will reach $20.63 billion in 2021, and continue to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% to reach $26.07 billion in 2025.

The volume of nonwoven material will rise across the same period. From 26.24 million metres square and 1.44 million tonnes in 2020; to 38.32 million metres square and 1.97 million tonnes in 2025.

Report author Phil Mango explains: "Through the pandemic, the nonwovens wipes industry has continued operating, providing tools for slowing and reducing the impact of the virus. In 2020, the nonwoven wipes industry has experienced a surge in demand that has challenged all stages of the supply chain. Disinfecting wipes have been supplied in record numbers, and demand for antibacterial wipes and healthcare wipes has also increased to extraordinary rates. 

For some wipe segments this elevated demand will remain for several years, – and overall global nonwoven wipes demand through 2025 will exceed previous projections."

The report analyses the market for four main type of wipes (Baby, Personal Care, Home Care, Industrial) and 16 sub-categories. It shows the following outlook for each in 2020 and beyond:
  • Covid-19 has had its most direct impact on homecare wipes. Disinfecting wipes are the second most affected market segment of all nonwovens, behind only face mask media. The unprecedented surge in demand in 2020 has been restrained only by a lack of supply, and converting capacity. Major disinfectant wipe suppliers estimate that it will be mid-2021, at the earliest before ramped up supply can match current demand.
    Already the most lucrative sector in the market, this will see increased demand through to 2025, led by home disinfecting wipes.
  • Baby wipes remain the largest single segment of this market, accounting for 48.4% of total tonnage. In 2020 there has been an acceleration of demand, as consumers have sought to hoard wipes of all types, this temporary peak will be reflected in a slightly decreased growth rate for 2021-2025
  • Lockdown (shelter-in-place) orders and the advent of homeworking has led to a boost in demand for personal care wipes. Shortages in the first half of 2020 led to consumers bulk buying moist toilet tissue and adult incontinence wipes. This increase will be short-term phenomenon. While growth will slow in 2021, this segment will remain the highest priced and fastest growing of all the major wipes types
  • Industrial or institutional wipes sold business-to-business are projected to be hardest hit by Covid-19. In particular major users in the automotive and construction markets have dropped consumption; and food service wipes have reduced dramatically due to the shutdown of bars, cafes, and restaurants.
    The sub-segment that is seeing the greatest rise in demand is understandably healthcare wipes, with enhanced disinfection practices an essential tool in defeating Covid-19 today and for the future. 
Even as demand continues to grow the market must respond to other pressures, led by the demand for more flushable wipes. The prioritisation of wipes by the EU’s Single-use plastics Directive is stimulating rapid R&D into new material sets, including:
  • Hydroentangled wetlaids using longer man-made cellulosic fibres
  • Modified carboxymethyl cellulose binders for airlaids
  • Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymers for Coform and spunlace.
The market outlook for all nonwoven wipes is expertly examined and quantified in Smithers latest study. This includes further forensic segmentation of the market by nonwoven material, web-forming process, and geographic market; with a comprehensive dataset with historic and forecast data for 2015-2025.  

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