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  • U.S. suppliers stay competitive

    Sponsored by IFAI Market Research

    In an IFAI business climate survey, three factors constraining growth in the U.S. specialty fabrics market were mentioned: high raw material costs, overseas competition, and high oil/energy prices. From September –December 2008, high raw material and petroleum-related prices were exacerbated by tighter credit markets and record unemployment.

    Survey respondents reported some positive factors: increasing market share due to increased consolidation, greater export opportunities, and development of new technology and growth in eco-friendly green markets. Growth markets include medical textiles, military applications, safety and protective products, and the domestic and international use of geosynthetics.

    Increases in raw material and energy costs, increased labor costs and medical insurance premiums and the possible long-term shrinkage of the military market were mentioned as threats to growth. The poor economy means a weak U.S. dollar, tighter credit and reduced consumer buying. Overcapacity could be a problem, due to increased costs, decreased customer demand and global competition, especially from China and India.

    In response, suppliers will focus on high value products, profitable niche markets and product diversification, improving manufacturing processes, R&D and information technology. Advertising, marketing and sales promotion will be key.

    From the 2009 State of the Industry Report. Purchase a complete report at the IFAI Bookstore.