HIGH POINT – The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the bedding industry to confront challenges to its nonwoven supply chain and is driving up prices for encased coils and other bedding components.
The use of key nonwoven materials is soaring as those materials are being used in medical and healthcare applications for face masks, medical gowns and medical drapes as the nation responds to the pandemic.
And that has brought about widespread shortages of spunbond pointbond polypropylene, used in various construction fabric applications in both furniture and bedding, including fabric-encased coils and dustcover, flange, quilt-backing, filler cloth and inner-panel applications, among others, bedding officials say.
Leggett & Platt, a major supplier to the bedding industry, responded to those shortages by implementing a 15.5% price increase on all fabric-encased coil systems last month.
Eric Freeman, group vice president and director of sales at L&P, outlined the challenges facing bedding producers in a letter to the company’s customers.
“Our lives and our businesses have been changed in unforeseen ways by the COVID-19 virus outbreak and global pandemic,” he said. “One of those unforeseen changes is the impact on the global supply of nonwoven roll goods.
“As the need for personal protective equipment, cleaning wipes and other essential products for pandemic response continues, many governments have restricted the export of nonwoven roll goods for their own consumption and in some instances, including here in the U.S., required manufacturers of roll goods to use their capacity for PPE applications,” he continued. “As a result, sources of industrial supply have quickly become unavailable or severely limited, which has caused prices to escalate at unprecedented rates for the very limited supply of products now available for non-PPE purposes.”
L&P officials said the nonwoven supply shortage is directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic as manufacturers have prioritized medical demand over industrial demand and demand for PPE is “at levels never seen before.”
Given that there is not enough nonwoven capacity to cover North American bedding demand, a variety of alternative nonwoven technologies are being explored and utilized. But those alternative technologies are much more expensive than typical spunbond materials because the production technology is slower and less efficient, officials said.