Global renaissance of cellulosic fibres? Wood pulp has played a central role in the textile industry for over a century, notably in the creation of regenerated cellulose fibers. Viscose, acetate, and lyocell stand out as the three primary types of such fibers, with wood pulp serving as the primary cellulose feedstock for their production. The …

Global renaissance of cellulosic fibres?

Wood pulp has played a central role in the textile industry for over a century, notably in the creation of regenerated cellulose fibers. Viscose, acetate, and lyocell stand out as the three primary types of such fibers, with wood pulp serving as the primary cellulose feedstock for their production.

The historical demand for acetate fiber reached its zenith in the early 1970s, followed by a decline as fabric manufacturers shifted towards more cost-effective materials like petroleum-based polyester. This shift reflects changing trends in the industry and preferences for economical alternatives. Overall, wood pulp continues to be a fundamental material, contributing significantly to the development of various regenerated cellulose fibers used in textiles.

In 2022, the leading producers of dissolving pulp, primarily utilized in viscose production, were the United States of America (1.2 million tonnes), Indonesia (1.2 million tonnes), China (1.1 million tonnes). Examining the global apparent consumption of dissolving pulp, China holds the dominant share at 60%, with India at 10%, and the United States of America and Indonesia each accounting for 6%1. The proportion of viscose in clothing and textiles produced by leading brands in Europe varies between 10% and 14%, indicating that synthetics and cotton still maintain a substantial market share2.

As of 2022, the collective global production of all man-made cellulosic fibers reached approximately 7.3 million tonnes2. Over the years, production in Europe and the Americas has remained relatively stable since the 1990s, while Asia has witnessed an increasing trend since the early 2000s. Among man-made cellulosic fibers, viscose holds the most significant market share, constituting around 79% of the total, followed by cellulose acetate fiber with approximately 13%3.

As per the latest report from Grand View Research, the global cellulosic fiber market is projected to reach USD 48.37 billion by 2025, experiencing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.1% from 2016 to 2025. The market’s primary driving force is the increasing demand for eco-friendly and biodegradable fibers on a global scale. Additionally, the growth of the textile and apparel industries in developing and emerging countries contributes significantly to the expansion of the global cellulosic fiber market.

Over the past decade, the global cellulosic fiber market has undergone a notable surge, primarily due to the heightened utilization of viscose rayon staple fiber, serving both as spinning fiber for apparel and in nonwoven applications. Despite facing a consistent decline in market share and volume during the 1990s, the cellulosic fiber market has demonstrated a remarkable recovery, witnessing a doubling in consumption over the past decade.

Asian countries, including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Indonesia, stand as major markets globally, experiencing remarkable growth rates in the application of man-made cellulosic fibers. In contrast, North America and Europe, being mature markets, are anticipated to lead the growth trend in the coming years.

The current landscape of the cellulosic fiber market is characterized by high capital intensity and a strong reliance on technology. Market players are consistently involved in research and development endeavors to introduce new products and technological innovations. However, the industry faces significant challenges such as fluctuating raw material prices, stringent regulations related to forestry and the environment, and a decline in cotton production. These factors collectively shape the dynamics and competitiveness of the global cellulosic fiber market.

Given the biological and geophysical limitations on global cotton production, currently standing at about 25 million tonnes per year4, and the growing consumer demand for natural and environmentally friendly fibers, the production of wood-based fibers is poised for a significant increase. Current global textile production hovers around 93 million tonnes per year, with approximately 53 million tonnes of fiber produced annually for clothing5. The global market for man-made cellulose fibers is estimated to rise from 6.4 million tonnes in 2020 to 8.6 million tonnes by 2027.

References

1 FAOSTAT 2024. Forestry Production and Trade. https://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/FO

2 STATISTA 2023. Manmade cellulosic fibers: global production 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1250891/global-production-manmade-cellulosic-fibers/

3 Textile Exchange. 2020. Textile Exchange, Preferred Fiber & Materials Market Report, 2020

4 OECD-FAO. Agricultural Outlook 2023-2032. https://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?queryid=124024#

5 Ellen MacArthur Foundation. 2017. A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future.

You may also be interested in:

Globe Newswire. 2022. Dissolving Wood Pulp Market Report: Production, Trade and Forecast to 2030.

Global Industry Analysts. 2024. Global Cellulosic Man-Made Fibers Industry.

Industry Arc. Cellulosic Man-made Fibers Market – Forecast (2024-2030).

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