Operating environment

Suominen is the global market leader in nonwovens for wipes and ranks among the world’s largest producers of spunlace nonwovens. Suominen’s main market areas are Europe and North America. Suominen also maintains a strong presence in the South American markets.

The global demand for nonwovens is constantly growing. The growth depends mainly on consumer demand, which is a combination of the general economic situation and consumers’ confidence in their personal finances. However, the demand for fast-moving consumer goods – that is, end products for which most of Suominen’s products are used – is not very cyclical in nature. The growth in the demand for nonwovens has typically exceeded the growth of gross domestic product by a couple of percentage points.

Global megatrends shape Suominen’s operating environment and affect our business.

The importance of sustainability continues to grow

Megatrends such as climate change and environmental degradation drive us to minimize the environmental impacts of our operations, improve our raw material efficiency and introduce increasing range of sustainable products to the market.

The market for sustainable nonwovens is growing globally and especially in Europe and North America. Legislation and regulations as well as consumer behavior are driving the market towards more sustainable products.

In Europe, one of the most significant changes in the operating environment is the European Plastic Strategy and European Commission’s Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUPD). The directive aims to protect the environment and reduce marine pollution. SUPD impacts many end products made of nonwovens as many wipes are traditionally made at least partially from raw materials containing plastic. Labeling requirements under the Directive for single-use products containing plastic entered into force in 2021. 

Initiatives similar to SUPD have emerged also in other regions as concerns over sewer blockages and marine pollution caused by, among other reasons, the inappropriate disposal of nonwoven products have been raised.

The need for more ecological and sustainable nonwoven products is clear, and Suominen is well positioned to respond to the growing demand to help its customers to be more sustainable in their product offering.

Demographic megatrends support our growth

Demographic megatrends, such as population growth, growing middle class, aging populations, increasing consciousness of health and well-being and rising healthcare expenditure, support our growth forecasts due to their impact on consumer behavior.

There is a direct correlation between the rise in the standard of living and, for example, demand for hygiene products. The rise in the standard of living combined with evolving lifestyles is reflected in the consumer behavior of the prospering middle class. In addition to essential commodities, this demographic is increasingly interested in solutions that make daily routines easier and less time-consuming. Increased consumption of household wipes and beauty care wipes is an example of this phenomenon.

New needs are emerging with aging populations and changing healthcare models. The demand for nonwovens used in, for example, medical applications and incontinence products is increasing. On the other hand, the need to find cost-effective solutions to combat bacteria and viruses is also contributing to the increase in demand for nonwovens in the healthcare sector.

Global instabilities cause uncertainty

We see some positive signals from the market and customers, but the overall global economic uncertainty and fierce competition continue to make the longer-term visibility challenging. It remains to be seen how the current economic climate impacts the end consumer demand and consumer preferences regarding wipes. Historically, the wipes market has been rather steady despite the general economic situation.

Instabilities in Israel and lately in Suez Canal, and the war in Ukraine continue to generate uncertainty globally.

Risks and uncertainties

Risks are categorized into strategic, operational, financial and hazard risks. Information about Suominen's non-financial risks and their management can also be found here.

Customers and key competitors

Our customer relationships last, on average, more than ten years and are typically based on 2–3-year-long framework agreements.