Supply chain flexibility is still a challenge for processed yarns
Unifi Inc. is one of the world's leading innovators in synthetic and recycled yarns. The company provides global textile solutions and unique branded yarns for customers at every level of the supply chain. Thomas Caudle, President, Unifi shares his insights on the global fibre market and the latest developments at the company.
What kind of impact will the presidency of Donald Trump have on the textiles and apparel market of the US?
The overall narrative supporting domestic manufacturers should favour Unifi given our advanced technology assets in this region. However, we will be paying close attention to the details around trade agreements and tax policies to ensure that they are supportive of the US textiles and apparel industry.
Which major factors will have an influence on the global fibre market?
The global textile fibres market continues to grow, with a projected 3 per cent annual average growth rate from 2015-2020. Polyester and nylon account for 60 per cent of the market, and we expect this share to continue to increase. Fluctuations in raw material costs will have an impact on production costs and overall consumer spending levels will impact fibre demand and production volumes.
What is the size of the market for specialised yarns? At what rate is it growing?
Although we can't speak for the industry, Unifi's premium value-added (PVA) yarn sales have grown at an estimated 10-15 per cent rate each year. We expect this to continue in the future.
Which are your big markets for Sorbtek, Repreve, Reflexx and Dynamic Cross-Section?
Apparel continues to be the largest market for Sorbtek, Repreve, Reflexx and Dynamic Cross-Section.
What markets do you plan to penetrate into in near-future?
Since opening the Repreve Bottle Processing Centre in 2016, we have been exploring additional options for our recycled bottle flake. Currently, flake is being sold for use in a variety of consumer packaging applications, such as thermoformed food-grade packaging as well as non-food applications, for example, strapping and film. On the Repreve chip side, among others, we supply the non-woven markets. These are non-traditional markets for Unifi where we will continue to explore profitable growth opportunities. We are also continuing to expand in Asia to meet customer supply chain requirements.
What are the latest innovations dominating the industry of value-added yarns?
Consumer demand for comfort and performance combined with style will be the driving force for continued innovation in the industry. We also continue to see growing support and interest in sustainable products and processes.
Which are the three main sustainable policies followed at your units?
Unifi integrates sustainability into everything we do. Our flagship recycled product line, Repreve, is produced from recycled materials that would have otherwise ended-up in landfills. To date, we have recycled more than 5 billion plastic bottles into Repreve fibre. Repreve not only alleviates the use of crude oil products, it also requires less energy and water for production and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions. At our bottle processing facility, we have a water treatment plant that recycles water from the fibre dyeing process to be used for bottle washing. We also have a solar farm that supports energy usage at our domestic plants.
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