Jeff Rasmussen, IFAI director of market research, says the future of the industrial textiles in North America will depend heavily on new technology applications to solve problems. Rasmussen spoke September 26 at IFAI Expo 2017, covering the worldwide specialty fabrics industry.
The world markets included five regions: North America, Latin America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Africa/Middle East. Worldwide projected sales in 2017 are at $146 billion, compared to $143 billion in 2016.
U.S. sales of specialty fabrics were up 2.4 percent in 2015 and 2.3 percent in 2016. U.S. sales for 2017 are projected at $33.6 billion, a 2.6 percent increase over 2016. Rasmussen explained, with unemployment at 4.5 percent and an improving housing market, consumer confidence is at a 17-year high. This always bodes well for the industrial textile market.
The Eastern and Western European specialty market continues to grow, Rasmussen noted. “Germany is an European market leader with around 50 percent of textile production being specialty fabrics.”
Asia Pacific will continue to be a major market in the future, predicts Rasmussen. He said, “Its strong industrial base has led to a significant rise in demand for specialty fabrics.” Applications include automotive, filtration, geotextiles, protective apparel, sports and leisurewear.
The textile industry in Latin America can expect continued growth, especially in disposable nonwovens used in air and liquid filtration markets and the absorbent hygiene markets. Brazil, the tenth leading producer of automobiles in the world in 2016, uses 72 million square yards of fabric in vehicle applications.
The Middle East and Africa comprise the smallest market, but there is growth potential in the area, says Rasmussen. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the third largest market for U.S. produced protective apparel.