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Cotton Prices Jump After U.S. Cut Exports Twofold


Cotton Prices Jump After U.S. Cut Exports Twofold

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Cotton Lint – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Cotton prices jumped by +13% to $2.59 per kg in October 2021, according to World Bank’s data. Global supply shows a sign of reduction, as American cotton exports dropped twofold from September to October. Droughts have wiped out a significant part of cotton crops across the U.S., especially in Texas. The U.S. remains the world’s leading supplier, accounting for 41% of global cotton lint exports. China, Viet Nam, and Pakistan represent key importers of cotton lint from America.

Cotton Price Trend

According to World Bank’s data, the cotton price (middling 1-3/32 inch, traded at the Far East) jumped from $2.29 per kg in September 2021 to $2.59 per kg in October. The reducing yields in the U.S. due to unfavourable weather forced American suppliers to slump exports, decreasing global market supply. The U.S. is the leading supplier, accounting for 41% of global cotton lint exports.

Since the beginning of this year, the global price increased from $1.92 per kg in January to $2.59 per kg in October. In 2020, the average cotton price estimated at $1.59 per kg.

American Cotton Exports by Country

Since the second half of 2021, American cotton exports have started to decline steadily. The most prominent drop was recorded in October when the supplies abroad fell from 209K tonnes to 122K tonnes over a month.

In 2020, the amount of cotton lint exported from the U.S. rose significantly to 3.8M tonnes, picking up by +7.3% compared with 2019 figures. In value terms, cotton lint exports fell slightly from $6.1B in 2019 to $6B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

China (1.2M tonnes), Viet Nam (782K tonnes), and Pakistan (507K tonnes) were the main destinations of cotton lint exports from the U.S., with a combined 65% share of total exports. In 2020, the supplies to China grew threefold, while shipments for the other leaders experienced mixed trend patterns.

In value terms, China ($1.8B), Viet Nam ($1.2B) and Pakistan ($788M) appeared to be the largest markets for cotton lint exported from the U.S. worldwide, together comprising 63% of total exports.

The average export price for cotton lint from the U.S. stood at $1,56 per kg in 2020, shrinking by -9.5% against the previous year. Average prices varied somewhat for the major overseas markets. In 2020, the highest prices were recorded for prices to India ($2,12 per kg) and Indonesia ($1,62 per kg), while the average prices for exports to Viet Nam ($1,5 per kg) and China ($1,54 per kg) were amongst the lowest. In 2020, the most notable growth rate in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to India, while the prices for the other significant destinations experienced a decline.

Source: IndexBox Platform


Economic Recovery in Germany Marked with Fierce Rise in Inflation and a Stronger Green Transition

When examining a recovery for the German economy as the world rebounds from the events of 2020, it’s important to realize that many sectors will continue to struggle throughout this year. Although the response from the government was fast and strong at the start of the pandemic, three main challenges remain top of mind for Germany this year throughout the recovery process as businesses adapt to a withdrawal of government support and the economy reopens. Many of them took up debt last year and are more vulnerable than before the start of the pandemic. In addition, supply bottlenecks across several sectors will affect exports, and lastly, they will face rising inflation, which is forecast to rise to 4% later this year.

At the onset of the pandemic, the German government provided an immediate response to support businesses, which led to a sense of stability for most of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Now, as vaccinations progress and cases go down, the government will evaluate its existing stimulus measures and begin to pull back on fiscal support. The German government’s generous support has already provided for approximately $400 billion in direct support (11% of GDP), higher than most countries in Western Europe. Much of what happens next will be decided during the September parliamentary elections but in the meantime, businesses are preparing to say goodbye to the generous financial aid provided.

One government support staying in place is the suspension of the Debt Brake Rule. This rule – which limits the federal deficit to 0.35% of economic output per year, by adding an investment rule to secure enough public money for climate protection, infrastructure, health care and education– has recently been officially suspended for 2022. Not only does this temporary suspension this rule ease the burden on German businesses and the wider economy, but helps transatlantic relations with the U.S., which has been running a trade deficit with Germany. The suspension of the rule has and will continue to help with the U. S’s high current account deficit with Germany, however, it is only predicted to be suspended through 2022.

Businesses globally are struggling with some of the worst supply chain issues to date. This is hitting German sectors particularly hard, as there is a national shortage of shipping containers and semiconductor chips. Supply chain issues are expected to be mainly short-term for the manufacturing industry, especially the automotive industry, and opportunity lies ahead in the medium-to-long term as demand grows for German exports in China and the U.S. The need to spend more on sustainability is the broad consensus among the German population and the main political parties and it is predicted the green party will be a strong contender in the September election. Demand for electric cars is growing, and the Germany car industry was able to play into this trend pretty well, helped by their strong financial position.

There are business opportunities in Germany for companies providing products or services for digitalization and sustainability, as Germany is striving to catch up in the digitalization process.

In general, the German economy is in good shape. While many businesses adapt as the stimulus pulls back, a few sectors will be struggling – such as textile and retail, where margins were already thin prior to the pandemic. The metal and steel industries are generally in good condition, with some upset from strong competition and small profit margins.

Keeping in mind that despite stimulus and support, businesses operating in Germany will have to protect their trade receivables in anticipation of the economic changes this year will bring.


Theo Smid is a Senior Economist for Atradius based in the Netherlands.


Cotton Prices to Rise Due to the Textile Industry’s Demand Booming Over the Supply

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Cotton Lint – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

After stagnating during the pandemic, the textile industry has begun to strongly recover and the demand for cotton has risen. It is expected that consumption in 2021 will grow faster than the supply. This will lead to a reduction in global cotton stocks and higher prices. The issues of sustainability and ethical background become increasingly important in the transformation of cotton supply chains.

Key Trends and Insights

With increased demand from the textile industry, global cotton stocks fell to a three-year low. Although cotton production is projected to increase by 5% in 2021, the demand will outpace supply which will raise prices further. In the medium term, the main driver of growth in the cotton market will be the demand for textiles from the growing global population.

According to a recent report by the World Bank, the average price for raw cotton in the first quarter of 2021 was $1.64 per kg, which is 3% higher than the average price in 2020. In the fourth quarter of 2021, prices are projected to rise to $1.72 per kg.

Despite the positive dynamics, cotton production in 2021 will not return to the record levels of 2019. High cotton yields are projected in the U.S. (+523K tonnes), Brazil (+436K tonnes) and Australia (+239K tonnes), Pakistan (+174K tonnes) due to favorable weather conditions and the increasing harvested area. China, on the other hand, will lower cotton production and give way to India as the main producer with a 24% share of the world total.

The highest growth rates for the industry and demand for cotton are expected in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey and China. The first four countries mentioned are becoming center points for the global textile industry due to cheap labor. In China and Turkey, the populations’ rising incomes will make production less competitive. It is assumed that domestic production will not be able to fully meet the demand of the industry in China, and the country will have to increase its imports.

Strong competition from other natural and functionally similar materials such as hemp or flax as well as synthetic textile materials will hold back market growth. Hemp is more convenient to grow than cotton as it consumes 5 times less water, while cotton production is considered “environmentally harmful” because it uses large amounts of insecticides. In some countries, forced labor is supposed to be used on cotton plantations. The environmental issues and labor rights violations lead to increased consumer attention to the ethical side of the cotton market. This forces major apparel companies to shift supply chains toward cotton suppliers with a proven and traceable environmental and ethical background.

The issue of creating a cost-effective recycling technology for cotton to be sustainable is now becoming increasingly important. The production of cotton fibers involves a huge amount of water consumption, and cotton recycling will significantly reduce these volumes and maintain the stability of natural water resources.

Cotton Exports by Country

In 2020, shipments abroad of cotton lint decreased by -9.2% to 8.1M tonnes for the first time since 2016, thus ending a three-year rising trend. In value terms, cotton lint exports shrank sharply to $13.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

In 2020, the U.S. (3.8M tonnes) was the key exporter of cotton lint, comprising 47% of total exports. It was distantly followed by India (965K tonnes) and Brazil (865K tonnes), together achieving a 23% share of total exports. The following exporters – Benin (292K tonnes), Greece (289K tonnes), Cote d’Ivoire (230K tonnes), Burkina Faso (217K tonnes), Nigeria (212K tonnes), Australia (170K tonnes) and Uzbekistan (137K tonnes) – together made up 19% of total exports.

In value terms, the U.S. ($6B) remains the largest cotton lint supplier worldwide, comprising 46% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by India ($1.4B), with a 11% share of global exports. It was followed by Brazil, with a 11% share.

In 2020, the average cotton lint export price amounted to $1,616 per tonne, shrinking by -6.9% against the previous year. Average prices varied somewhat amongst the major exporting countries. In 2020, major exporting countries recorded the following prices: in Nigeria ($2,222 per tonne) and Uzbekistan ($1,823 per tonne), while India ($1,501 per tonne) and Greece ($1,558 per tonne) were amongst the lowest.

Cotton Imports by Country

In 2020, after three years of growth, there was significant decline in supplies from abroad of cotton lint, when their volume decreased by -16.8% to 7.1M tonnes. In value terms, cotton lint imports contracted sharply to $12.2B in 2020.

In 2020, China (1.9M tonnes), distantly followed by Viet Nam (945K tonnes), Pakistan (819K tonnes), Bangladesh (726K tonnes), Turkey (655K tonnes) and Indonesia (627K tonnes) represented the largest importers of cotton lint, together generating 79% of total imports. The following importers – Malaysia (247K tonnes), India (174K tonnes) and South Korea (115K tonnes) – together made up 7.5% of total imports.

In value terms, China ($3.6B) constitutes the largest market for imported cotton lint worldwide, comprising 29% of global imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Viet Nam ($1.4B), with a 12% share of global imports. It was followed by Pakistan, with a 11% share.

The average cotton lint import price stood at $1,706 per tonne in 2020, shrinking by -5.3% against the previous year. Average prices varied somewhat amongst the major importing countries. In 2020, major importing countries recorded the following prices: in India ($1,979 per tonne) and China ($1,929 per tonne), while Viet Nam ($1,486 per tonne) and Turkey ($1,519 per tonne) were amongst the lowest.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform


Growing Awareness for Hygiene to Spur Nonwoven Baby Diaper Sales

The rising population in developing nations increased focus on personal hygiene, and growing demand for eco-friendly baby products are some factors contributing to the proliferation of the nonwoven baby diaper market. Nonwoven fabrics are being primarily used in the textile industry, especially for producing baby diapers owing to their excellent absorbency, liquid retardancy, etc.

The synthetic fibers that are used for making diapers are derived from polypropylene. Nonwoven baby diapers have a soft texture that avoids babies from getting rashes on their skin. When a baby urinates, it passes through the fabric and is absorbed by the material, keeping the baby stress-free and comfortable.

Talking about comfort, many diaper makers are developing stretchable nonwoven baby diapers that enable babies to roam around unbounded. Using nonwoven fabrics for making diapers helps the purpose as this material offers excellent breathability and flexibility, owing to which babies don’t feel restless.

Sustainability is one of the key factors when it comes to personal hygiene, and baby diapers are no exception. Regional authorities and national-level government organizations are implementing environment-friendly policies by promoting disposable baby diapers. This has encouraged manufacturers to redesign their products with sustainable materials to meet these regulations. With such a soaring demand for environment-friendly products, it is likely to prove beneficial for the augmentation of the nonwoven baby diaper market.

Developing nations like India and China, two of the most populous nations of the world, have significantly high birth rates and this can prove beneficial for the baby diaper industry to flourish in the Asia Pacific. Furthermore, increased awareness amongst millennial parents regarding basic baby hygiene and health may possibly shift their focus from traditional diapers to sustainable and comfortable ones, thereby boosting the consumption of nonwoven baby diapers.

Many key players are collaborating with regulatory organizations for exercising innovative and safer approaches to developing baby diapers. To support this statement with an instance, Healthynest, a personal baby care brand has teamed up with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and launched new baby diapers that satisfy the stringent guidelines set by the EWG, which includes the analysis of every ingredient used for producing a baby diaper and excluding chemicals that can be harmful to the baby’s health.

Diaper manufacturers are also strengthening their market position with strategic acquisitions and mergers. For instance, Unicharm Corp. announced the acquisition of DSG International, which claimed to be the second-largest baby diaper manufacturer in Thailand. This has helped the Japanese company in bolstering its market presence in the Southeast Asia region.

In conclusion, the nonwoven baby diaper market has immense potential to proliferate with growing awareness for personal baby hygiene and increasing birth rate in emerging economies.


How the Demand for High-Temperature Resistant Polymers Enhances the Growth Statistics of Polyimide Fiber Market

With biodegradable and eco-friendly fibers scoring an edge over synthetic polymers of late, the polyimide fiber market has been observing a renewed traction worldwide. In the last couple of years, polymers and advanced materials industry giants have faced a series of challenges pertaining to the integrity of various polymer products, a factor that has propelled the trend of natural fibers across various industries. Polyimide fiber has been identified as the most widely approved eco-friendly polymer owing to its exceptional characteristics including high decomposition temperature (560 degree Celsius), nonflammable, UV and radiation resistance, and relatively lower fire damage compared to aramid fiber.

On the research front as well, various scientific evaluations of polyimide fiber have made their presence felt, which are likely to contribute toward industrial development. Due to their aromatic structure, polyimide fibers boast of low flammability and brilliant chemical resistance while being extremely light in weight and these factors have made PI fiber market an attractive commercial proposition across the chemical industry.

Polyimide Fiber Market | Applications in the Chemical Industry

Applications in the chemical industry have indeed been cited as one of the chief arenas for the polyimide fiber industry over the past few years. One of the prominent reasons for the same being product’s massive use for filtration purposes in the industry where hot gases are involved. Since PI fibers are highly resistant to chemicals, they can be used as a supreme alternative for conventional filters generally used in chemical business space that are susceptible to high degradation thereby delivering reduced operational efficiency.

In fact, the use of PI fibers eases the performance of extreme processes while also augmenting the chemical plant’s overall productivity. Looking into these aspects, various chemical giants have begun brainstorming for the development of varied types of PI fibers to be used in chemical industries and elsewhere.

In a recent turn of events, one of the major chemical industry players- Evonik, had in late-2019 announced the launch of its new polyimide fiber named P84 HT, given the massive demands from various industries. The newly introduced product has received high acclamation owing to its improved mechanical stability and flexibility at constant high operating temperatures. In lieu of the aforementioned features, P84 HT fibers are typically developed to be used in a wide range of applications right from filter media for high-temperature filtration to thermal insulation and protective clothing.

COVID-19 and Polyamide Fibers

Given that polyimide fibers are massively being used in protective clothing, the recent trend for these is the outbreak of COVID-19 infection spread. The dreaded coronavirus pandemic, which emerged from the Wuhan province of China has to date claimed more than a million lives, leaving various businesses paralyzed. COVID-19 infection is considered to be a novel respiratory infection that is highly communicable, and this calls for use of proper protective equipment like face masks and PPE kits which could help in curbing the spread of this disease. In this regard, N95 masks are being currently deemed to be massively used protective equipment subject to their ability to restrict about 80% of aerosol particles.

Although N95 masks are considered highly effective, researchers are exploring the possibility of developing a membrane that can efficiently filter particles the size of SARS-CoV-2 and could potentially be replaced on an N95 after almost every use. In one such instance, a group of researchers reported on ACS nano that they have designed a membrane that could be attached to the N95 masks and later removed to prevent minuscule of particles to enter the respiratory tract. For this, researchers initially developed a silicon-based, porous template via lithography and chemical etching processes, and placed it over a polyimide film, standing as a barrier for the entrance of ultra-nano particles.

Also, recently a research team from City University, Hong Kong has successfully designed graphene face masks boasting of anti-bacterial efficacy of 80 percent which can only be improved to almost 100% with exposure to sunlight for just 10 minutes. An important thing to note here is that these masks can also be produced via the use of polyimide films. Speaking of which, it was reported that direct writing on carbon-containing polyimide films using a commercial carbon dioxide infrared laser system would produce 3D porous graphene, exhibiting similar graphene-like properties.

On the basis of the aforementioned, it is quite overt that although polyimide fibers or films are not directly used as a protective agent against dreaded COVID-19 infection, they still are highly important to improve the efficiency of PPE kits including face masks.


Burgeoning Need for Facemasks Amid COVID-19 Concerns to Propel Meltblown Nonwovens Market

As the demand for finer and more efficient filter media grows amid burgeoning facemask requirements, melt-blown nonwoven technology is set to gain rapid traction. Melt-blown fibers have diameters of less than 10µm, which is considerably finer than human hair of 120µm, and even cellulose fibers of 50µm.

One of the main polymers used in the production of melt-blown nonwovens is polypropylene. The raw material is melted and forced through an extruder which consists of several tiny nozzles. Once the thermoplastic synthetic material has exited the nozzles, the individual filaments, in their semi-melted form are blown by hot air in the same direction, essentially expanding them and producing extremely fine, endless fibers, within a matter of seconds.

The application scope of the melt-blown nonwoven market is vast, spanning filtration applications such as vacuum cleaner bags or cabin air filters, hygiene applications like feminine hygiene and incontinence products, medical fabrics, electronics, oil adsorbents, and apparel, among others.

Growing demand for feminine hygiene products and adult incontinence products will drive melt-blown nonwovens industry penetration

In the hygiene sector, nonwoven fabrics are present in a wide variety of products. From baby diapers to wet towels, to adult incontinence products to feminine hygiene products, nonwoven technology is rapidly becoming an intrinsic part of products used in nearly every phase of daily life.

One of the main end-users of nonwoven fabrics is bodyworn absorbent hygiene products. According to a study conducted by EDANA (European Disposables and Nonwoven Association), Personal Care & Hygiene represented almost 390,000 mt (36%) by weight and over 16.5 billion m² (56%) of the overall m² production of nonwovens in Western Europe in 2001.

Thus the broadening application scope of these products in various hygiene products is likely to add impetus to melt-blown nonwoven industry dynamics over the years ahead. Meltblown fabrics offer several beneficial properties like softness, lightweight, superior wet & dry strength, chemical agent-free, and dermatologically neutral characteristics, which make them highly suitable for use in products like baby diapers, which need to be designed especially for delicate infant skin.

To that end, in 2018, SABIC introduced a new lightweight & breathable PP nonwoven fabric for use in personal hygiene applications. The new material is based on its innovative PP resin product designed to enhance the properties of melt-blown fibers in nonwoven fabrics. The material, dubbed SABIC PP 514M12, is based on an odor-free and phthalate-free technology that delivers superior processability for melt-blown fibers with high spinnability, and uniformity. The resulting melt-blown nonwoven fabrics thus possess advanced barrier properties, breathability, absorption, conformability, and myriad other characteristics which make them well suited for personal hygiene products like sanitary napkins and diapers.

Stringent regulations pertaining to polypropylene usage may hamper industry growth

While melt-blown fabrics are being utilized extensively across the industrial landscape, the presence of strict regulations on PP usage by regulatory authorities worldwide may present certain roadblocks to market development over the coming years.

Stringent mandates, such as the European Union’s REACH regulation, aimed at addressing growing environmental concerns may challenge the adoption of melt-blown nonwovens.

Proliferating product use in the manufacture of facemasks is emerging as a key melt-blown nonwoven market trend

Surgical face masks have long been considered important protective measures in healthcare settings, in order to safeguard patients and staff alike. High-quality face masks are becoming crucial for healthcare professionals, particularly in the present pandemic scenario created by the novel coronavirus.

Meltblown nonwovens play a key role in this regard, as they are considered an ideal filter material for various types of masks.

In fact, the Journal of Academia and Industrial study, which compared the performance of nonwoven facemask materials with conventional and micro-porous materials over 7 main properties including liquid penetration resistance, bacterial penetration resistance, mechanical resistance, linting, drapeability, flexibility, and comfort, revealed that the nonwoven textile outperformed the conventional fabrics in four of the seven parameters.

To that end, various manufacturers are integrating the use of melt-blown nonwoven fabrics into their operations, as a response to the ever-growing need and potential shortages of protective facemasks in the COVID-19 era.

For instance, Sinopec (China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation) announced the establishment of a new production line for melt-blown nonwovens in the Jiangsu Province in March 2020, in order to boost the supply of raw materials for face mask manufacturing during the pandemic period.

Likewise, leading packaging and paper producer Mondi also introduced new production lines in its Gronau plant in Germany, for the production of melt-blown nonwoven fabrics, as well as surgical masks. The setup of the new lines is part of the company’s efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19 and address the growing demand for face masks from businesses, consumers, and health authorities.

Technological advancements and production expansion will facilitate growth for the melt-blown nonwoven industry

Key players in the melt-blown nonwoven industry are working on various strategic initiatives such as production capacity expansions as well as R&D efforts for nonwoven technology advancement, in order to cater to the rising product demand worldwide.

For instance, Freudenberg Performance Materials announced the expansion of its production capacity for nonwoven media used specifically for the production of certified EN14683 standard-compliant mouth-nose protection type of face masks, as well as EN149 standard-compliant FFP1, 2, and 3 masks. The materials are developed exclusively for the medical technology processing domain. Furthermore, Freudenberg has made significant investments towards the construction of a sophisticated melt-blown production line at its Kaiserslautern facility.

Meanwhile, Innovatec made a substantial investment in the development of two novel melt-blown nonwoven production lines in Europe, one of which is from Oerlikon Nonwoven. The investment is part of the company’s objective to manufacture an additional 1500 tons of nonwovens annually, which will eventually facilitate the creation of over 1.5 billion protective face masks.

Proliferating COVID-19 cases among the global population have created significant disruptions in the industrial domain, with various manufacturing facilities and supply chains taking a massive hit. With consumer purchases witnessing a marked drop across myriad product categories, several industries are facing challenges due to the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the main challenges presented by the pandemic was an unprecedented surge in melt-blown nonwoven industry demand, which has historically observed stable and long-term demands. However, the melt-blown nonwoven and related industries are responding in earnest to this rise in demand, and are rapidly coming to be considered an essential part in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, given their ability to boost the production of PPE, facemasks, medical supplies, wipes, and other products required for effective COVID-19 response.

For example, in Italy, which was the first European nation to enter a lockdown, Ahlstrom-Munksjö expanded its melt-blown nonwovens capacity at its Turin plant, which is now able to produce enough material for the manufacturing of over 60 million facemasks a month.

With this rapid expansion in interest and production, melt-blown nonwoven fabrics are rapidly coming to be considered as a prominent contributor to nonwoven technology in the modern era. With rapid technical material developments and the broadening application scope of specialized polymer structures, new melt-blown fabrics will likely transcend the utility of their conventional counterparts, paving the way for a brighter and stronger forecast for the technology in the years ahead.

polypropylene fibers

3 Major Trends Driving Polypropylene Fiber Market Expansion

Shifting to renewable plastics, to address growing environmental concerns without compromising on the superior characteristics of plastics, will be a major factor driving the growth of polypropylene fiber industry.

Polymers are among the most commonly used materials in nearly every aspect of modern life. Polymers have been in use for centuries, and have rapidly integrated themselves into applications across myriad dominions of technologies, science, and industry.

While natural fibers have been in existence since early civilizations, man-made fibers were developed at the end of the 19th century, when the first regenerated or semi-synthetic materials were discovered. While completely synthetic polymers were created early in the 20th century, most fibers used commonly in modern applications gained prominence only in the 1960s and 70s.

One of the most prominent polymer types, polypropylene, first came to light when it was polymerized by two Phillips petroleum scientists, Robert Banks, and Paul Hogan. The material began to gain prominence over the next three years, especially once it started being commercially produced, following the perfection and synthesis of the first polypropylene resin by an Italian chemist, Prof. Giulio Natta in 1954. Polypropylene emerged fully into the commercial landscape by 1957 and gained massive popularity across the European region, gradually establishing itself as one of the most common types of plastics in the modern world.

The 1970s saw the first fibers from polypropylene being introduced into the textile industry and becoming a core part of the synthetic fibers industry.

Polypropylene fibers, also known as PP, refers to a synthetic fiber, which is transformed from 85% propylene. The materials demonstrate vast potential across several applications, most significantly in the manufacture of yarns. For instance, most affordable carpets used for domestic purposes are made using polypropylene fiber.

The rapid growth of the polypropylene fiber market in recent years is attributed mainly to the plethora of benefits demonstrated by the material, such as heat-insulating properties, lightweight, resilience, high resistance to organic solvents, acids, alkalies, and mildew, etc.

Burgeoning interest in polypropylene fiber reinforced concrete for construction applications

In the construction domain, the integrity and life of the structure depend heavily on its resistance against conditions such as chemical attacks, weathering action, abrasion, and other degradation processes throughout its life.

Concrete has long been considered the most preferred material for construction applications, owing to its low permeability, higher resistance against mechanical and chemical attacks, and enhanced mechanical properties, among others. While the compressive strength of concrete significantly impacts its behavior, its tensile strength is equally important with regard to its durability and appearance. However, concrete alone has a relatively low tensile strength. To address this, concrete is becoming increasingly reinforced with various types of fibers, in order to improve its crack arresting system, flexural tensile strength, and the ductile behavior of the basic matrix post cracking.

The use of polymeric materials for concrete modification has been a source of great interest and research over the past few decades. Polypropylene fibers, for instance, were first considered as suitable admixtures to concrete in the year 1965, in the construction of blast-resistant structures for the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Since then the material has undergone persistent improvements over the years and is used in modern applications as a short discontinuous fibrillated material for polypropylene fiber reinforced concrete production, or in the manufacture of thin sheet components as a continuous mat.

PFRC (polypropylene fiber reinforced concrete), especially, is used extensively in the construction of various structures, owing to the robust properties it demonstrates from the addition of fibers, such as flexural strength, impact strength, tensile strength, and increased toughness. PP is the preferred material of choice for these applications, mainly because of its vast availability, economic price points, and consistency in quality.

Textile innovations in polypropylene fiber-based fabrics for sportswear 

Textiles are the first and most prominent application areas for the polypropylene fiber industry. High abrasion resistance, non-absorption of liquids, stains and dirt, washing ease, and color resistance are the major factors contributing to the popularity of these synthetic fibers over their natural counterparts in the textile industry.

Increasing standards and perceptions of customers across the globe have triggered a need for textile innovation in recent years. The sportswear market especially has witnessed a prolific rise in customer propensity towards higher comfort levels, easy-care, and attractive designs in their activewear. This in turn has prompted many key players to innovate functional fibers, novel structures and garments, designed to address these evolving customer needs.

For instance, one of the most common challenges faced by manufacturers of protective wear and sportswear is finding a high-performance, durable fabric that can remain hygienic and comfortable for its wearers. PP is the most commonly used material in active wear due to its durability and wear-resistance, but unlike cotton or wool, it is not sweat-absorbent, which can impact its performance in terms of comfort.

To address this, the EUREKA initiative’s E! 2709 BASTEX project came up with novel antibacterial additives, designed to be incorporated into polypropylene fiber-based materials in order to manufacture high-performance clothing. The concentration of the additive was defined such that it would demonstrate optimum antibacterial and hygienic properties and ensure wearer comfort, without affecting the durability and physical & mechanical properties of the polypropylene fibers.

Strategic initiatives by global players will present lucrative innovation prospects

Synthetic fibers, while widely popular across myriad industries are associated with several environmental concerns. For instance, studies suggest that the synthetic fiber industry is the cause of over 20% of the industrial water pollution across the globe. In order to address these concerns and create a more sustainable and durable alternative to harmful synthetic materials, several key players are making targeted efforts to develop new strategies and innovations in fiber technologies.

To illustrate, in June 2020, HP introduced its new material called High Reusability Polypropylene (PP). The novel, chemically resistant, durable material has been qualified for the company’s production-grade additive manufacturing systems. Designed for HP customers in the customer space as well as industries such as medical and automotive, the new BASF-enabled 3D High Reusability PP demonstrates qualities similar to regular polypropylene, including low moisture absorption rate, high durability, and robust resistance to chemical wear and tear.

Likewise, Borouge, Borealis, and ITOCHU made a joint announcement regarding their strategic intent to evaluate the benefits of integrating renewable polypropylene in the Japanese market. This move is a part of Japan’s countermeasures against climate change worldwide, including its plan to introduce nearly 2 million tons of renewable plastic products into the market by 2030. The joint effort will contribute significantly to this shift to renewable plastics, and address growing environmental concerns without compromising on the superior characteristics of plastics like polypropylene.


Fashion Buying in the Age of COVID-19

Fashion buying has always been a complex task. But in the age of Covid, getting hold of the right stock has become even trickier for boutique owners. With many supply chains severely interrupted and some businesses on the verge of collapse, fashion indies now have the added worry of whether the right products will reach their stores at the right time – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala.

Some retailers canceled much of what they originally planned to carry at the start of the lockdown, while others are waiting with anticipation to see if their full orders make it to their stores. Much-loved brands could go into administration before the season ends while others might not be able to deliver their full collections.

Some indies are planning to order more products in-season than they would have done pre-pandemic. There are many benefits to buying this way including versatility, guaranteed stock, immediate deliveries, and being able to react to the weather and consumer demand. Short order buying also means paying for stock as you go along, which can help with managing the business’s cash flow.

But it’s not always easy to find suitable brands that offer in-season collections. And with most major trade shows now canceled for the rest of the year and recommendations against non-essential travel, finding new brands and stock to buy in the middle of the season is even more problematic for retailers.

The digitalization of the wholesale model is offering a much-needed alternative for boutique owners and brands. Thanks to a new wave of B2B marketplaces such as TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace it is now possible for buyers to hunt out new products and place orders from the safety of their computer, tablet or smartphone. Many buyers are already used to scouring for new brands online via social media platforms such as Instagram. TradeGala takes it one step further by allowing buyers to browse entire collections and then place orders – all on one convenient site.

TradeGala’s roster of brands is ever-expanding and the marketplace offers a comprehensive line-up to suit myriad tastes and budgets. Standout pieces available to buy via its site include on-trend printed midi and maxi dresses by Zibi London, Liquorish and Hoxton Gal, party dresses, and jewelry from Haus of Deck, and affordable sustainable young fashion designs by Nesavaali. Buyers can choose from casual yet elegant womenswear pieces from Figi and Lenitif, sparkly heels by Glitz Shoes, fashion trainers from JR Artisan Fashion, and intelligent underwear designs by Magic Bodyfashion. There are also beautiful occasionwear pieces such as flowing gowns and bridesmaid dresses from City Goddess and Goddiva.

With a simple order process, retailers can make product selections with just a few clicks. Buyers can refine their search using the site’s in-built filters to find particular colorways, styles, or prices – making it easy to curate unique and harmonious collections from a range of brands. Each product also has its own detailed page with professional photographs and in-depth information, which makes it easy to select the right pieces. And because TradeGala is in operation 24/7, retailers can research and choose products whenever and wherever it suits them.

TradeGala also offers centralized customer service and payment protection so buyers can feel confident when ordering. Many of its sellers offer low minimum order stipulations and sell single garments, so boutiques can make a small trial order to test the brand’s viability with their customer base with very little risk. For brands, TradeGala offers greater visibility and access to new international markets and the latest technologies with minimal commitment. Smaller, independent brands are able to take their first steps into the wholesale market, which may have previously seemed too daunting.

The fashion wholesale world will probably never be fully digitalized given the tactile nature of buying. However, as the country gets to grips with living through a pandemic, TradeGala offers a great way for retailers to access stock safety, conveniently and cost-effectively. This year has been difficult for so many reasons.


Mina Melikova is the CEO of TradeGala


COVID-19: The Fashion Store That Stands Out of the Crowd

When things get tough it’s often hard to remember why you started. When you’re drowning in paperwork, figures and the latest sales initiatives it can be hard to see beyond the next task at hand. Whether you own a fashion retail chain or a small independent boutique, it’s safe to assume that you started out with a desire to share your love of fashion with the world.

Unfortunately, it’s often all too easy for that dream to get lost along the way. This may seem like a minor issue, a simple fact of life when faced with the reality of running a business. But if you’ve lost sight of who you are and why you do what you do, you could actually be damaging your chances of success, particularly during a worldwide crisis where retailers must stand out from the crowd in order to triumph over the competition. Maybe now is the perfect time to go back to basics and remember what makes you unique?

When calculating sales targets and budgeting stock, it’s often difficult to see beyond the line of figures in the cashbook. But if we want to convert sales it’s vital to connect with our customers on an emotional level. Let’s go back to why you started. Perhaps you wanted to curate the perfect selection of stunning occasion wear dresses, to share with your customers the fun of dressing for a big event or a special day. Perhaps you wanted better options when buying clothing for your kids and decided to source childrenswear brands in line with your vision to help make parents’ lives easier and children’s clothes shopping fun. You more than likely imagined yourself as the customer – how you would feel as you browsed the ranges, or what you would think as you entered the door. Things seemed simpler then (then again, didn’t everything?)

But perhaps we need to simplify things once more in order to get to where we want to be. It’s all very well using the latest window dressing or SEO techniques, sending out carefully worded newsletters, and offering sales and coupons. But customers know when they’re being sold to, and more often than not, it’s a major turn-off. How many times have you deleted yet another sales email from your inbox, or avoided a store assistant’s pushy sales techniques? It’s time you put yourself back in the customer’s shoes. Who are they? What do they want? How do they want to be treated? Talk to them if you have the chance and find out what the problem is that only you can solve. They may just remind you why you started out in the first place.

The fashion and trade sector is always changing and every few months retailers update their stock, bringing out the summer dresses or stocking up on jumpers and scarves. The bell-bottoms that were ubiquitous years ago have been relegated to the backs of wardrobes to give way to the skinny or the wide leg. But it’s not just trends that change. Are you the same person that you were when you started your business? Is society in the same place as it was when you started out? Even if you launched your business just a year ago, the answer to these questions is more than likely to be “no”. And as situations change, if we continue to do what we always have done, we’re likely to get left behind. But how does that fit with going back to where you started? If we’re supposed to constantly be changing and adapting, how can we stay true to our original goals? The key, as always, is to strip things back to the essentials.

Let’s go back to the occasion to wear example. If your original vision was to offer stunning party wear but people are no longer buying glitzy dresses perhaps now is the time to consider what led you to your choice in the first place. Was it the glitter and sequins that attracted you? Maybe you could consider introducing a range of casual wear, but with a touch of your signature bling to stay true to your brand and bring a little sparkle to your customers’ everyday lives? If the reason you went into occasion wear was more about dressing your customers for their special events, you may simply need to reassess the mood of the moment – if sustainability and slow fashion are the buzzwords of the day, perhaps you could source more classic designs which will last a lifetime, or consider an offering a hire service to help your customers live more sustainably while still fulfilling their fashion fantasies? Consider what your original vision can offer to your customers today and be ready to step outside of your comfort zone.

Ever had the feeling that you’re stuck in a rut? Haven’t we all. It’s often easier to source your collections from the same brands year after year – you’ve built up a relationship, you know what to expect, it’s quick and easy. But ease can be an enemy of progress and relying on those tried and tested habits can lead you away from what you originally set out to achieve. If you’ve gone back to basics you should already have a good idea of exactly what you want to offer your clients. Whatever it is you decide, one of the major factors is likely to be “something they can’t get anywhere else”. We all want to be original, and when the competition is sky-high we need to be able to set ourselves apart from the crowd. “Building your own special identity is a long-term process, but it’s worth all the effort.” – says Mina Melikova, CEO of TradeGala and chief executive of occasionwear brand Goddiva.

If your customers can find the same styles in another perhaps more local store, or they keep seeing those same old favorites in your storefront season after season, they’re likely to look elsewhere. Do what you did when you were just starting out – trust your instinct and branch out with the up-and-coming designers you happened across at the last trade show. Take a risk on a new international brand you discovered recently on your travels. If you want to be faithful to your brand personality you shouldn’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd – it’s the key to success after all.

We know that sourcing brands and purchasing stock can be time-consuming, and can take you away from that all-important time with your customers. This is why we created TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace we do the legwork, sourcing emerging and well-established fashion brands from around the world, with something to cover your every fashion need. New brands are added every week so there’s always something new, something to inspire! Revisit your vision and find the brands to help you achieve it at TradeGala.


The Popularity of Menswear Continues To Rise: 5 Trends You Need To Know For 2020

Traditionally, when we think about consumers who prioritize fashion and style in their spending habits, women tend to be the target market that comes to mind. Slowly but surely, though, the times are changing, and we’re seeing a shift towards the growing popularity of menswear.

In fact, by 2021, menswear is expected to surpass womenswear in revenue, meaning not only is it good practice to pay close attention to this ever-expanding market, but it’s also not a bad idea to stay on top of the latest menswear fashion trends.

In doing so, we can better predict the styles, brands, and fashion niches that will see success in 2020.

All that being said, here are five menswear trends we’re expected to see pop up in 2020:

1) Bold Ties

While streetwear has been taking over in the menswear department for multiple seasons now, many will be happy to learn that men’s suiting is stepping back onto the scene as well. Don’t be fooled, though. We’re not talking about your standard black suit and skinny tie. Instead, in 2020, trend reports are showing that wide, thick, patterned ties will make a comeback, along with monochromatic suits, done in various colors other than black.

Throw some suspenders into the mix to go with your new suit and tie, and you’ll be unstoppable with this menswear trend on your radar.

2) Patchwork Prints

If suiting doesn’t exactly speak to you, you’ll be pleased to know that streetwear-inspired apparel is still alive and well in menswear. In particular, throwing a little patchwork into your look is a surefire way to stay on trend in 2020.

Not only will the addition of patchwork give an outfit an edgier and slightly grunge-inspired feel, it’s also an easy print to pull off, no matter what your typical style preferences. We’re certain that consumers will be gravitating towards any garments that make use of patchwork.

3) Leather Jackets

No, this isn’t a reference to your traditional motorcycle jacket. In 2020, we’re expected to see men start to favor sleeker, modern lines from their leather. That’s right, you don’t need bold chains, zippers, and all the bells and whistles to pull off a leather jacket in 2020. Keep it simple when it comes to leather.

4) Vests

While a more formal vest is always a closet staple for men, in 2020, don’t be surprised if you see more outdoor-inspired vests popping up. Whether it be something sleek and light for spring, or it be a puffer vest for the cold months, vests are taking the proverbial style cake in menswear for 2020.

5) Crossbody Bags

And lastly, while crossbody bags have been on the rise in womenswear season after season, this year the popular trend is crossing over into menswear.

Yes, you read that correctly. While we might not traditionally think of a crossbody bag as something a man might wear, more and more, men from all over are embracing this convenient (and stylish!) option for their wardrobes.

Bottom line: Menswear continues to be on the rise, with no end in sight. No longer is style just for women. Style is something that is accessible to all, and that means staying up-to-date with the latest consumer trends in menswear, so that both men and women can have access to the style items they crave.


Josh Newman is an entrepreneur with a broad business and marketing background having worked with major brands as well as starting several boutique e-commerce companies like JJ Suspenders. Marketing and business aside, Josh also has a love for design. Despite having no fashion experience prior to co-founding JJ Suspenders, his aesthetic eye quickly helped him learn what worked and what didn’t in the fashion world, be it color combinations, packaging, and customer experience. His motto: build a remarkable product and the rest will follow.