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Textile Manufacturing: Global Cost Trends From A U.S. Perspective: Trends In Fiber And Yarn Prices

Part One of a four-part series to be published on TextileWorld.com over the next few months

Brian John Hamilton, Ph.D.; William Oxenham, Ph.D.; and Kristin A. Thoney, Ph.D.

There recently has been a noticeable increase in the U.S. public's interest in domestic manufacturing. This was a much-discussed topic in recent political elections for a variety of reasons, including patriotism and concern for the U.S. economy. Co-author B.J. Hamilton sought to examine trends in production costs to determine whether conditions are becoming more favorable for textile manufacturing in the United States. This is the first installment of a four-part series of papers created from part of that research.

The main source of secondary data utilized in this paper was the monthly "Yarn Market" department of Textile World magazine from 1980 to 2012.

Fiber And Yarn Price Data
In subsequent parts of this series, it will be shown that due to the cost structure of yarn manufacturing, the United States would benefit from an increase in fiber prices, such as the steep increase in cotton prices in 2010-11. In order to show the overall influence of fiber prices on yarn prices, which obviously impact the total costs of subsequent textile processes and products, it was believed worthwhile to review historical trends. Figures 1-3 show the historical prices of fibers and the yarns made from those fibers.

Figure 1 shows the prices of raw cotton fiber, 10/1 ring-spun yarn and 10/1 rotor-spun yarn from 1990 to 2012. Figure 2 shows the prices of 1.5-denier polyester fiber and 8/1 ring-spun polyester yarn from 1984 to 2012. Figure 3 shows the prices of 3-denier acrylic fiber and 12/1 rotor-spun acrylic yarn from 1984 to 2012. In each instance, any increase in fiber price is reflected by a similar increase in yarn prices and these cost increases and decreases are quickly passed down the textile supply chain. It is clear also that, particularly for cotton, there is the expected slight lag between changes in fiber prices and changes in yarn prices.

Figure 4 compares the prices of the fibers found in the past three figures from 1990 to 2012. A relationship can be seen among the three fibers. The market dictates that if the price for one goes up, the demand for others will increase, leading to the prices of the other fibers also increasing. It is seen that in 2010-11, the sudden price increase in raw cotton was soon followed by price increases for polyester and acrylic fibers.

This paper shows the close relationship between the price of raw fibers and the yarns made from those fibers. It also shows the correlation between various fiber prices. This means that an increase in any one fiber price should affect the costs for both spinners of other fibers and for fabric makers.

Hamilton, B.J. (2012). "Short- and Long-Term Opportunities for US Textile Manufacturing." PhD Dissertation, North Carolina State University.

Textile World "Yarn Market" (1984-2012).

Editor's note: Brian John Hamilton, Ph.D., is product developer - Domestic Lifestyle at New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., Boston. William Oxenham, Ph.D., is Associate Dean, and Kristin Thoney, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at North Carolina State University's College of Textiles, Raleigh, N.C.


February 19, 2013