Why Are Customers Shifting from Natural Fibers to Synthetic Fibers?

Currently, Asia-Pacific dominates the synthetic fibers market, a situation that will stay the same in the coming years.

Over the last few years, customers have shifted from natural fibers to synthetic or man-made fibers due to the cost-effectiveness, wider application base, and abundant availability of the latter. Additionally, higher strength, elasticity and resistance to wear of synthetic fibers make them more sought after than natural variants. As man-made fibers are not dependent on agricultural produce and favorable temperature ranges, which are inconsistent due to global warming, their production will not be hindered by changing agriculture patterns and weather conditions.

Acrylic, polyester, polyolefin, and nylon are the different types of synthetic fibers being produced in contemporary times. In recent years, the consumption of polyester fibers has significantly surged in heavy-duty industrial applications, such as conveyor belts, due to their high strength and elasticity, low cost, and recyclability. Thus, the increasing consumption of polyester will help the synthetic fibers market prosper during 2021–2030. According to PS Intelligence, the market generated ~$60.0 billion revenue in 2020.

Moreover, the expanding clothing industry will also accelerate the consumption of synthetic fibers in the forthcoming years. For instance, the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, states that cloth production (excluding wool, silk, and khadi) in the country grew from 66,845 million square meters (sq. mtr.) during 2017–2018 to 70,046 million sq. mtr. during 2018–2019. Furthermore, the National Council of Textile Organization (NCTO) states that U.S. textile and apparel shipments stood at $64.4 billion in 2020.

Apart from industrial and clothing applications, synthetic fibers are also used in automotive, home furnishing, and filtration applications. For example, automobile manufacturers use polyester fibers in the production of insulation materials, automobile carpets, fuel filters, door panels, seat fabrics, airbags, tires, and air filters. Customers can avail these fibers from offline and online distribution channels. In the forthcoming years, end users will show high interest in online channels, because e-commerce platforms offer easy accessibility and convenience of shopping to customers.

In recent years, synthetic fiber producers, such as Toray Chemical Korea Inc., Teijin Frontier Co. Ltd., Lenzing AG, Indorama Corporation, Toyobo Co. Ltd., E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, The Dow Chemical Company, and Bombay Dyeing Manufacturing Co. Ltd., have been engaging in mergers and acquisitions to reach out to a larger number of customers. For example, in March 2021, Teijin Frontier Co. Ltd. merged its subsidiary companies— Teijin Modern Yarn Co. Ltd. and Shinwa Limited to develop, produce, process, and sell yarns under a new name, Teijin Frontier Knitting Co. Ltd.

Globally, the Asia-Pacific region dominated the synthetic fibers market in the recent past, due to the large-scale production of acrylic, polyester, nylon, and other man-made fibers in India, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. For instance, according to the Ministry of Textiles of the Government of India, India produced over 1441 million kg of synthetic fibers during 2017–2018. Furthermore, the Ministry reported that India is the second largest producer of viscose and polyester in the world.

Thus, the wide application base of synthetic fibers will amplify their consumption in the upcoming years.

Aryan Kumar

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