The growth in world consumption of textile fibers in total has weakened in 2011 after the strong growth in 2010. Fiber prices have also fallen in response to softer demand for textile fibers.
World fiber consumption fell in both 2008 and 2009 but rebounded strongly in 2010 to hit record levels as the world economy recovered and demand for fibers increased. Fiber prices also rose sharply, increasing by between 25 percent and 100 percent by the end of 2010.
However, the growth rate in world textile fiber consumption is expected to weaken in 2011 due to a combination of a slowdown in the global economy, concerns about the impact of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and in response to the surge in fiber prices in 2010 and the first half of 2011. The main brunt of the slowdown in consumption will be felt in natural fibers - cotton and wool. Cotton consumption is expected to fall by 4 percent in 2011, as mills shift their buying to man-made fibers.
Wool consumption is also expected to ease, by 1 percent, in response to the record levels of wool prices seen in the first half of 2011 and the poorer economic outlook. After a strong first half of 2011, raw wool consumption by the major wool processing countries has declined in the second half of the year, led by a decline in India and China.
While India's raw wool purchases from all sources have fallen in 2011, its imports of U.S. wool have continued to rise as U.S. wool has replaced wool from other countries, notably Australia.
The outlook for 2012 is for a modest recovery in fiber consumption, with a growth of 2 percent predicted. However, consumption of natural fibers will remain flat in 2012.
Reprinted from the Wool Journal