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Synthetic fibers demand outpace cotton globally

Demand for textile products made from synthetic fibers will grow by an average of 3.7 per cent per annum over 2015 and 2025 whereas consumer demand for cotton textile products will grow by only 0.2 per cent per annum. The rise in the share of non-cotton textile products reflects a significant increase in the share of textile products made from synthetic fibers. In fact, this share rose in each of the ten years to 2016 and is expected to rise further in 2017.

One reason for the rise in share is an improvement in the competitiveness of synthetic fiber prices compared with the prices of other fibers. The average price of polyester staple fiber, for instance, fell at a double digit rate in 2016 for the third consecutive year to its lowest level since 1974.

The average price of cotton, by contrast, rose in 2016 and this made cotton less competitive. In fact, 2016 was the fourth consecutive year in which the average price of cotton rose relative to the average price of synthetic fibers. However, there continues to be a preference for cotton products in industrialised countries whow account for almost 50 per cent of global consumer demand for cotton textile products.