Exciting diversification opportunities are arising for nonwovens suppliers in the supply of topsheets, backsheets, absorbent cores and other components used in diapers, feminine hygiene goods and adult incontinence wear.
At the same time the performance demands on these materials are becoming increasingly rigorous, according to the latest report from Smithers, The Future of Hygiene Components to 2027, while new components that optimise comfort, discretion and sustainability are at a premium.
Overall a total of 631.2 billion hygiene products are projected to be sold in 2023, with a total value of $107.6 billion. The report predicts that this number will reach 783.4 billion products and a value of $126.3 billion (at constant values) in 2027 – equivalent to a +6.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the five-year period.
Within the ten different component types Smithers analyses, topsheets are the most important. These account for 46.3% of the contemporary market by value followed by backsheets (22.3%), and films (16.8%). The growth outlook for backsheets through to 2027 is especially positive, and topsheet sales too will exceed the market average. The fastest growth will be in certain secondary components for hygiene goods such as stretch ears, waistbands and leg gathers.
Nonwoven, film and tissue elements for hygiene goods totalled 6.1 million tons in 2022, worth $18 billion. This represents a short-term peak, with sales value almost double the figure for 2020. This is attributable both to a post-pandemic surge in demand, and the impact of increased oil prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While inflation is running at a high level, hygiene goods in established economies are highly resistant to any loss of consumer purchasing power. This means global demand will increase to reach 8.28 million tons in 2027 even as prices moderate downwards.
Consumption will continue to be dominated by synthetic components, but the driver among top-end products to employ more sustainable components is pushing R&D departments to work on bringing more pulp-based and recycled plastic material sets to market.
The main trends in components include that for thinner cores, with higher percentages of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs). These are coming under scrutiny from an environmental perspective, generating new interest in biodegradable or easy-to-recycle diaper components, including in an array of premium sustainable diapers sold online.
Feminine hygiene goods still have limited use in some developing markets, with a distinct preference for liners and pads in many Asian countries. As these goods become more established, consumer demand is calling for thinner, more discrete designs.
In established markets, pantyliners are increasingly being employed as a non-stigmatising solution for minor incontinence among middle-aged women marking an evolution towards multi-purpose pads that can manage an array of fluids.
The rising number of elderly people in developed markets and the increasing awareness of how adult incontinence wear can enable them to maintain full lifestyles, will result more subtle better fitting options.
The data in the report is combined with insight tracking the most important changes in this nonwoven market across the next five years, with over 150 data tables and figures, segmenting the market by component type, material input, hygiene product, geographic region, and leading national market.