Fluff pulp or fluffy pulp is a fiber extracted from long-fiber softwood trees. This is also called by the name of communication pulp. The quality of a fluff pulp is judged through its water absorbing properties. The early fluff pulp used in sanitary napkins was produced from cellucotton that had cotton and cellulose (plant extract). However, fluff pulp was introduced after a period of time and it was received quite well by the disposable diaper and personal care industry due to its low costs and high absorbency. Nonetheless, the growth in the industry took a different turn after the introduction of superabsorbents, air-laid papers, and tissue paper. The use of fluff pulp is now reduced to only 15 grams in the diapers as its purpose has changed. It is now being used as a wet strength material rather than just an absorbent. Talking about the production of fluff pulp, approximately 90 percent of fluff pulp is bleached softwood pulp and 90 percent of it is kraft pulp.
The global fluff pulp market is huge and it is growing due to the increasing income disposable of the individuals in the emerging economies. The demand of fluff pulp is ever-increasing in the regions such as APAC as it is heavily importing the material from North America. The demand of fluff pulp in the APAC is quite high and it is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5-6 percent till 2020. The major end-use industry of fluff pulp is the personal care and hygiene industry which is driven by the demand in the diaper industry specifically. This demand is also expected to grow and sustain the levels till 2020. New capacity startups and capacity additions are becoming an industry trend which will aid the industry to grow in the coming 2-3 years. Talking about the global production, the U.S. is the largest producer of the fluff pulp which accounts for approximately 83 percent of the global manufacturing.
Fluff Pulp Applications and Medical Uses:
Some of the leading manufacturers of fluff pulp include Georgia Pacific, International Paper, Domtar, Resolute Forest, Arauco, Stora Enso, and WestRock. Majority of these players are based in North America due to being a highly mature market. However, the region is witnessing low growth rates due to no increase in demand.
- The end-use industries of fluff pulp industry include companies that produce diapers, personal hygiene products, and medical-grade absorbent products. However, this also reflects a number of industry trends that make and shift the demand supply and capacity landscape in the industry. Baby diapers are the prominent products that use the material. The diaper industry is growling and along with it the se of baby diapers. The air-laid market which is another user of fluff pulp is also expected to add to the demand of fluff pulp through increasing growth which is an outcome of more production of air-laid products.
- Even the demographic changes such as increasing aging population, balancing gender ratio on the female part, and increasing concern about the health and well-being of patients are sure to encourage the growth prospects in the fluff pulp market. The industry price trends are getting favorable and the development of fluff pulp from alternate materials such as hardwood is also being commenced. The two projected trends that are going to change the industry on a global level are smart diaper that are integrated to smartphones and smart diapers for tracking child health.
- Talking about the fluff pulp capacity in the industry, industry leaders and other medium-level enterprises are trying to find alternates for fluff pulp and they are also witching to unfluffed pulp which is also called paper-grade pulp for enhanced capacity. Brands like International Paper and Domtar are also adding to the capacity with 876,000 with the help of mill conversions. Capacity additions from other players such as Domtar, Riegelwood, and NC are also contributing to the industry making surplus capacity situations. This is actually evident in the regions such as LATAM as it is now in a situation to comfortably meet the regional demand without having to import the material. Another emerging economy, China is also entering into the industry which will set some competition against the global leaders.
Fluff pulp is quite an ordinary material that is used in many everyday products. However, the material caters to niche industries that cannot use any other product as an alternative. This makes it a high demand product which is integral to a variety of products such as air-laid products, baby/adult diapers, innovative products such as smart diapers, medical-grade absorbents, everyday towels, and many more. The fluff pulp market is also quite dynamic but it is also very stable. The leading global players are contributing their share in the growth of the global market and capacity additions and capacity glut are a result of that.