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Fiber Prices Continue to Climb

Fiber prices are on the rise as supply becomes more scarce.

According to the latest monthly fiber report from PCI, raw material prices for both polyester and nylon rose, viscose prices went up, and wool prices climbed as well. Short-term cotton prices increased due to less crop availability, and in the past two months, cotton prices rose as the industry experienced an international shortage of this fiber.

“Estimating cotton production is fraught with difficulties and subject to continual revisions. It is the sum of the agricultural activity of millions of cotton growers in many countries, plus a complex pipeline from harvesting, ginning and spinning, plus marketing and the intervention of various private and government enterprises,” the report said. “Nevertheless, the current shortage should not come as a surprise.”

For other fiber markets, this may be a beneficial situation. Viscose production could go up and also polyester textile filament may be used as an alternative during the cotton shortage. Although cotton demand will most likely flatten as other fibers replace it at this time, it is important that careful management occurs to avoid a repeat of high cotton prices five years ago.

Here is a look at what happened with fibers in July.


Asia’s polyester raw materials prices increased last month.

According to PCI, the Chinese polyester fiber chip is at 6,025-6,250 yuan ($906.88-$940.75) per metric ton and the rPET flake price is at 4,450-4,600 yuan ($669.81-$692.39) per metric ton. Despite the upcoming G20 Summit, both polyesters in Asia experienced increased prices for the month of July.

For America, the U.S. polyester fiber chip price remained unchanged at 61-70 cents per pound.

For Europe, PCI said, “There are no known issues with PX supply in Europe with substantial monthly exports out of region continuing.”

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Higher spot prices, along with higher contract prices in the West occurred for nylon raw materials including benzene, in July.

“The key question which the market was wrestling with was whether the advent of fresh supply in Asia would be sufficient to detract from the need of the Western markets to incentivize stronger supply, including more imports,” according to the report.

Last month, markets decided to restore inter-regional differentials that brought about more deep-sea supply.


Acrylic and polypropylene prices rose last month. Although supply increase was on hold, propylene prices increased internationally.

Propylene spot prices in Asia reached $750 per metric ton, which was a 3 percent increase from June.

Europe also experienced a higher contract price ($743 per metric ton at the settlement time) after experiencing a tight supply from June’s BASF Sonatrach PropanChem PDH plant outage in Spain.


According to PCI, cotton prices rose from the end of June throughout the first three weeks of July. From July 1-18, the Cotlook A Index (FE) reached over 85 cents per pound before correcting to a little over 84 cents per pound on the July 22.

“The cotton market can be easily worried at present, given current tight supplies and the potential for speculative money to push futures beyond supply and demand fundamentals,” the report said. “There is now considerable attention focused on new season crop (2016/17) much of which will be nearing the critical boll setting, boll opening and then harvesting stages over the next three months.”

PCI predicted that global cotton production is up 1 million metric tons, with recovery in India and Pakistan to balance out the current shortage.


Buyers are currently looking for wool that is better quality and complies with ethical animal treatment. In July, wool prices continued to go up across all international currencies.

In regard to the 2015/2016 season, there was an ending price (EMI) at 1,297 AC/kg clean (966 cents per kilogram) on June 30, which was up 5.3% from last year (1231Ac/kg clean, 940 cents per kilogram).

PCI said, “While prices for very fine wools still retain a significant premium, this season has seen a further narrowing of the premium between fine wools around 18.5-19.5 microns and middle micron wools (21.5-22.5), as fine wool volumes increase.”