Significant demand growth as alternative genuine leather

Significant demand growth as an alternative to genuine leather

5:29 AM, 6th September 2018

Industry Insights

The India polyurethane (PU) synthetic (artificial) leather market size was valued at $3.97 billion in 2016. It is witnessing augmented demand from applications in automotive and footwear industries. It is also used as an alternative to genuine leather, a factor that is significantly propelling its demand.

Certain drawbacks of genuine leather, such as sticky feel and texture, are restraining its demand, paving the way for PU artificial leather. Surge in middle-class population, coupled with rising disposable income, is likely to present favorable opportunities for players in the local market. Another factor propelling its growth is low manufacturing cost as compared to natural leather. This has led to an increase in investments and is anticipated to help improve overall market penetration over the next eight years. PU leather has good elasticity, high tensile strength, and a three-dimensional structure. It is soft as well as resistant to solvents and abrasion. These properties have played a major role in increasing the product’s market penetration in automotive, footwear, and furnishing sectors. High price of natural leather is also a critical factor that has propelled the need for its alternatives.

However, adverse effects of polyurethane on the environment as well as human health threaten the market. Exposure of polyurethane to humidity and heat can slowly lead to de-polymerization, resulting into a flaking and brittle surface. It is nondegradable and very difficult to recycle.

Even if it is recycled, the end-product does not meet the optimum quality expectations of consumers. This is likely to hamper the demand for artificial leather. The polyurethane faux leather market has attracted numerous legislations and regulations on account of rising pollution levels from polyurethane foam as well as other products. Raw materials such as TDI and MDI, which are associated with the production of PU, are deemed hazardous to the environment.

The polyurethane artificial leather market in India is characterized by the presence of small- and medium-scale manufacturers. Manufacturers operate on a very large scale and achieve economies-of-scale as raw materials are available at relatively cheaper prices. They are also consistently innovating and upgrading production techniques to keep up with modern technologies and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Application Insights

Footwear emerged as the leading application category and accounted for 37.7 percent of the total volume in 2016. PU faux leather is used to manufacture shoe lining, shoe uppers, and soles for sports shoes, flip-flops, formal shoes, boots, sandals and slippers. The segment is anticipated to witness substantial growth during the forecast period owing to rising disposable income of consumers and rapid economic growth. Variations in climatic conditions across the country lead to requirement of different types of footwear; this is also likely to boost market growth.

Increasing popularity of athleisure apparel and footwear is further expected to propel demand for the market. Being lighter and cheaper than genuine leather, polyurethane synthetic leather is used in several automotive applications such as train and airplane seats, steering wheel covers, roof lining, sun visors, seat covers, armrests, hoods, door trim, and knob and gear bot covers. High elasticity of the product offers comfort and resistance to water, alcohol, and extreme temperatures. It also increases durability and enables easy maintenance. It is softer than genuine leather, without the sticky texture. Owing to these advantages, several OEM manufacturers in this segment prefer PU synthetic leather to real leather.

Country Insights

The polyurethane synthetic leather market in India is anticipated to witness promising growth during the forecast period. Key players operating in the country are facing stiff competition from manufacturers in Bangladesh, which is fast emerging as a leading exporter of high-quality, yet cheaper, non-leather footwear. The country supplies artificial leather shoes, sandals, flip flops and boots to major companies including H&M, Kappa, Decathlon, Fila and Puma.

As demand rises for less toxic and more biodegradable variants of artificial leather, end-use industries are likely to present massive opportunities for major industry players. To overcome the concentrated nature of the competitive landscape, companies are focusing on strengthening their presence, domestically as well as internationally. Key players are executing various expansion strategies, such as new product development, acquisitions, capacity expansions, and partnerships.

Synthetic Leather Market Share Insights

Key players are investing in development of newer technologies and focusing on forward and backward integration in the value chain. Major participants include DAMAN Textiles, MarvelVinyls, Natroyal Industries Pvt Ltd, Nirmal Fibres (P) Ltd, United Decoratives Pvt Ltd, Shakti Tex Coaters Pvt Ltd, Response Fabrics (India) Pvt Ltd, Strategic Initiatives, Ventura Indi and Jasch International Ltd. 

Source: Grand View Research

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