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Global trends in fibre prices, production and consumption, September-October 2006
published in Issue 125, September-October 2006
World fibre production fell by 2.4% in 2005. The cause of the decline was a 6.9% drop in raw cotton output. Man-made fibre production increased, although growth was confined to China and South-East Asia. The bulk of the increase in man-made fibre production was attributable to growth in synthetics, especially polyester. However, cellulosic fibre output grew faster. The fall in cotton output led to a 6.5% decline in natural fibre production in 2005. As a result, the share of natural fibres in global fibre production fell to 42.9%, thus reversing some of the gains made in the previous year. Meanwhile, lower prices led to an increase in wool consumption—although the increase was only 0.8%.
The cotton price rose from a low of 48.60 cents/lb in December 2004 to 58.85 cents/lb in October 2006. For the 2005/06 crop year as a whole (August 1, 2005-July 31, 2006), the average price was 57 cents/lb—6.1% higher than in the previous year. Furthermore, the price is predicted to increase by 12.3% to 64 cents/lb in 2006/07 as stocks diminish. Meanwhile, demand will rise by 3.2%, according to the EIU, although this is much slower than the 6.9% increase recorded for 2005/06 despite higher usage in China and South Asia. Output will also rise in 2006/07, assuming that growing conditions are reasonable, as firmer prices encourage plantings. Furthermore, the crop is expected to be the second highest on record—although the increase will be confined to only 1.2%, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Wool prices have crept back up, despite competition from man-made fibres and the maintenance of healthy stock levels. Although stocks have fallen, they still represent a comfortable proportion of annual output. However, global demand for wool fibre is being sustained largely by consumption in China. Elsewhere, it is being depressed by the restructuring of the textile industries in industrialised countries. The outlook is for some further firming of prices in 2006/07 while stocks are expected to remain at current levels as supply and demand remain more or less in balance.
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