International hosiery market set for transformation as sourcing shifts towards emerging low cost producers in Asia

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The international hosiery market is set for transformation as importers in the major markets, including the USA and the EU, shift their sourcing towards emerging low cost producing countries in Asia, according to a report in Issue 199 of Textile Outlook International from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.

World exports of hosiery rose by 6.9% to US$13.9 bn in 2018 and, of this total, China alone accounted for a 44.5% share. Furthermore, Chinese hosiery exports rose to a record high of US$6,213 mn.

However, China is facing increasing competition from fast growing countries in Asia which can produce basic hosiery quickly and cheaply. As a result, sourcing of such hosiery is set to shift away from China towards these countries.

Turkey — which was the second largest exporting country in 2018 — is also facing increasing competition from fast growing low cost countries in Asia, particularly in the EU import market. So is Italy, which was the third largest exporting country in 2018.

Hosiery exports from Italy, Turkey and other large producing countries — including the USA and South Korea, a higher priced Asian country — declined during 2018 as the new players in Asia made significant gains in the market at their expense.

Asian countries which pose a significant threat include Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam. Such countries are quickly adopting Industry 4.0 production methods, and these are helping them to improve productivity and manufacture goods in vast quantities.

Hosiery exports from Pakistan reached a record high in 2018 while India shot up in the hosiery export rankings by three places compared with 2017 to become the 15th largest exporter in 2018. There was also a rise in exports from Vietnam in 2018.

Despite these significant gains however, China’s share of world hosiery exports is expected to remain fairly stable in the short to medium term as its low cost competitors in Asia do not have the infrastructure in place to produce the volumes which the Chinese industry is capable of producing.

Nor do China’s competitors receive the investment for purchasing the machinery needed to produce hosiery which is more technically advanced.

In a bid to retain their positions in the hosiery export market, Italy, Turkey, South Korea and the USA will have to invest significantly to enable them to specialise in the production of technically advanced hosiery and overcome the threat posed by emerging low cost producers in Asia.

Source:  Textiles Intelligence