The airlaid market, at least in North America, will receive a boost early next year when a long-awaited new produc- tion line begins operation in Fort Smith, AR. Being added
by Glatfelter, who is already the world’s largest manufacturer of
airlaid nonwovens, the new line will add 22,000 short tons of capacity to the market representing the largest single investment in
North America in more than 15 years.
“Our plan to build this new facility is in direct response to customer needs for increased capacity in a tightening North American airlaid market,” says CEO Dante Parrini.
The new facility was also the result of a major customer order,
according to the company. When it announced the $80 million
facility two years ago, Glatfelter indicated that growth in lighter
weight hygiene and disposable wipes products—a market already in growth mode, increasing 12% last year—was a priority.
In 2015, feminine hygiene applications dominated Glatfelter’s
sales, representing 74%, while wipes comprised less than 10% of
sales. CFO John Jacunski recently told analysts that the invest-
ment in Arkansas, which will also include a center of excellence,
will allow Glatfelter to target wipes without compromising the
needs of its feminine hygiene efficiencies.
“(The new line) will bring additional balance to the portfolio
which is a good thing and at the same time sends a message to
all of our customers that we are willing and able to support their
growth,” he says
With the location not far from wipes maker Rockline’s op-
eration in Springdale, AR, and feminine hygiene manufacturer
Kimberly-Clark’s facility in Conway, AR, industry insiders are
speculating that the capacity on this new line already has at least
two key customers.
A Long Time Coming
North America has not seen significant airlaid investment since
the early 2000s when Buckeye (which is now a part of Georgia-Pacific) added a 50,000-ton line in North Carolina around the
same time that Concert Industries (a business now owned by
With Glatfelter’s new line coming onstream early next year, shifts could be ahead for this specialty
By Karen Mc Intyre, Editor
For many airlaid manufacturers, feminine
hygiene continues to be the largest market.