Diaper Makers Expand Manufacturing Footprint

Drylock and First Quality both announce investment plans to better serve customers in the baby care market

New diaper capacity is coming to North America. Investments from two of the market’s largest suppliers of private label and contract manufactured diapers are making significant investments in their manufacturing footprint. These efforts come as demand for high quality, premium-style diapers continues to grow amidst private label retailers and boutique brands in the North American markets. 

According to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, demand for store brand baby care products is on the rise. For the year ended August 13, 2023, disposable diaper dollar sales rose 10% to $646 million while private label baby wipes increased 11.1% to $634 million. 

That doesn’t mean private labelers aren’t being challenged. According to Pricie Hanna, principal, Price Hanna Consutlants, aggressive pricing and other combative moves from the major brands can make it difficult for store brands to hold their marketshare.

“Private label demand has been fluctuating,” she says. “The consumer has shown that inflation and pricing has gotten their attention. If they can get the same up-to-date features in their private label products, they will certainly try it. However, historically it has been difficult to hold marketshare.”

Drylock’s U.S. Expansion
Seven years after establishing a U.S. headquarters for its adult diaper business in Eau Claire, WI, Drylock Technologies started making disposable baby diapers in the U.S. at a new site in Reidsville, NC, not far from its competitor Ontex’s North American plant in Stokesville, NC. Executives expect the new plant to be the next success story in the Belgium-based company’s ambitious investment strategy which has helped propel its sales from surpass $1.2 billion, just one decade after its establishment.

“The move is part of our strategy to follow our customers: it is answering the increasing demand for baby care products among our valued North American customers and serves as the perfect addition to our plant in Wisconsin, which has served as the bedrock of our incontinence products business in the USA for seven years,” said Drylock CEO Bart Van Malderen. 

A localized presence in the U.S. baby care market will allow Drylock to support faster product development for its local customer and suppoet them with unparalleled speed to market, he adds. Drylock has largely focused on the retailer brands segment of the hygiene market where it serves customers in baby and adult care brands. According to Van Malderen, growth is being driven by enhanced product quality and range extensions, optimized positioning and high innovation levels as well as sustainable solutions, all designed to compete directly with national brands. 

First Quality Adds to Footprint
Two years after announcing a plan to consolidate its U.S. manufacturing footprint with a shift away from its King of Prussia, PA plant, First Quality will increase its baby diaper and training pant manufacturing by 50% and its adult care products capacity by 25%. While the company has not yet announced the location of the new capacity, it did say that it will include a new facility, diaper lines, training pants line and a state-of-the-art automated warehouse facility for baby care as well as new lines for its bladder control pad, protective underwear and underpad capacity.

The baby care investment will be implemented in stages and is expected to be completed by June 2025 while the adult care expansion is expected to be finished by September 2025.

First Quality currently has manufacturing sites in McElhattan, PA, Macon, GA, and Drummondville, Quebec.

The incontinence products expansion will allow First Quality to satisfy the growing demands for its products. In addition, the company will be launching new innovative products not currently found in North America and introducing cutting-edge innovations and enhanced features. This expansion will be completed by September of 2025.

“These investments once again reaffirm First Quality’s ongoing commitment to the absorbent hygiene market as well our commitment to sustainability, supply chain optimization, product development and innovation,” says Allen Bodford, president of First Quality’s Absorbent Hygiene Division. “We look forward to completing these expansions and providing our customers with the innovative, high-quality products and services that they have come to expect from First Quality.”

Source: Nonwovens Industry

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