Cellulose Acetate Fibers
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Published: March 2012
Cellulose acetate fibers are consumed in two applications; the production of cigarette filter tow and textiles, mainly apparel. Cigarette filter tow accounted for approximately 92% of the world consumption of cellulose acetate fibers in 2011 and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of almost 2.5% during 2011–2016.
Textile applications accounted for nearly 8% of world consumption of cellulose acetate fibers in 2011; demand growth during 2011–2016 is forecast at an average annual rate of approximately 1.2%.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of cellulose acetate cigarette filter tow by region and total world consumption of cellulose acetate textile fibers:
During 2008–2011, declines in demand for cigarette filter tow in North America, Western Europe and Japan were largely offset by consumption gains in Asia, mainly China.
The global economic slowdown, which began in 2008, reduced demand for cellulose acetate textile fiber as most consumption is in apparel and home furnishings. Since 2008, several producers have exited the market; this greatly increased global capacity utilization for cellulose acetate textile fibers, from 57% in 2008 to 89% in 2011. World demand is expected to grow moderately during 2012–2016, as most replacement by other textile fibers, especially polyester, has largely occurred and as demand recovers from the recent world recession. Demand growth will be highest in Asia, where apparel is a large application; growth will also occur in niche markets, such as medical tape.
Regulations concerning smoking in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America are fewer and not as restrictive as in, for instance, the United States; additionally, social pressure to stop smoking is not as strong in these regions. Smoking prevalence is declining in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia. While regulations influence smoking on a regional level, global consumption of cigarettes is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of approximately 0.7% during 2010–2020. This is a slower rate of growth than during 2000–2010, when global cigarette consumption grew at an average annual rate of approximately 1.0%; this higher growth was due largely to increased cigarette consumption in Asia, where population growth and increases in living standards experienced a period of significant growth.
Cellulose acetate cigarette filter tow is not at risk for substitution by competing products. Replacement of cellulose acetate textile fiber primarily by polyester fibers has largely occurred. China will strengthen its position as the largest single consumer of cigarette filter tow and will likely attract the most investment for expansions and new construction of cellulose acetate cigarette filter tow facilities.