Polyurethane grades from the softest of foam to the most indestructible of thermoplastics drive innovation and production in the footwear industry. Jane Denny reports.
An estimated 20bn pairs of shoes were produced in 2013, representing roughly $10 a pair to an industry predicted to have 2018 sales revenues of around 211.5bn by Transparency Market Research (TMR) revenue analysts. Based on market capitalisation, apparel and footwear ranks 31st under Bloomberg’s Industry Market Leaders analysis. The industry segment’s position for sales revenues is number 35, with chemicals listed ninth by both measures. The footwear industry relies heavily on polyurethanes.
About 13bn pairs of shoes and boots were made in China in 2014, which is equivalent to 60% of total production, according to footwear machinery maker DESMA’s ceo Christian Decker.
Decker’s aim is to replace labour intense production lines with footwear production automation.
Decker said: “A shoe that can be produced by one person in 12 seconds in Europe may take 22 seconds in China with 15 people working around the machine, each with a specific function.”
Desma’s research indicates that by now, average global consumption is around 2.5 pairs/person/year.
Sport shoes are the dominant market, with Nike and Adidas the key players. In 2014, Adidas announced sales of $14.5bn. Rival Nike reported revenues of $27.8bn, up 10% on 2013 and double what it was in 2005.