Fiscal health: Anti-COVID fabrics’ go viral

New Delhi: India’s fabric manufacturers seem to have converted the COVID-19 induced economic catastrophe into an opportunity, as scores of companies have quickly come out with anti-microbial textiles.

The trend has gone viral, said industry insiders, as they cited many established players’ entry into the anti-COVID or microbial fabric segment.

Notably, these companies claim that anti-microbial fibres not only destroy various viruses and bacterias, but also inhibit their growth.

Besides guaranteeing the financial health of textile manufacturers, experts opined the need for such products as viruses have the tendency to thrive on the fabric surface, thereby, increasing the risk of exposure.

At present, these specialised fabrics are used in the medical segment including for manufacturing of masks and personal protection equipment (PPE).

However, the COVID-19 scare may also lead to increased demand for such fabrics in the global apparel industry. 

Consequently, many domestic manufacturers have entered into collaboration with foreign companies for such antiviral textile technology.

Even though, the demand for these fabrics might not be able to fully offset the weakness in the sector, the new fibres do make for a timely business opportunity for those players, who are already invested in this specialised segment.

Seeing the potential of the new fabric, many players such as Siyaram Silk Mills, Grasim Industries and Shiva Texyarn have announced the launch of such products.

“The demand for textile with antimicrobial material has picked up in the market amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and these are being used to manufacture N95 masks, surgical masks, PPEs and food packaging bags,” said Pinakiranjan Mishra, Partner and Leader, Consumer Products and Retail, EY India.

“While its true efficacy in the long term is yet to be proven, however, in the short and medium term this trend will certainly be relevant to the manufacturers.”

Furthermore, the new type of fabrics provide a value added proposition, said Motilal Oswal Financial Services’ Private Retail Research Head Siddhartha Khemka.

“Any product made out of the fabric will have the value added advantage than normal fabrics,” Khemka said.

“This might give a sales push to the sector during an overall downtrend that the industry is expected to witness.”

According to Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer at Acuite Ratings & Research: “The exports of yarns, fabrics and and madeups from India has seen a negative CAGR of 1.6 per cent over the 5-year period 2015-20, reflecting the challenges faced by the domestic textile exporters in a competitive global market.”

“Clearly, there is an immediate opportunity for such value added pro ducts like anti-microbial fabrics in the medical segment driven by high demand of masks, PPE, bed linen etc. Such demand is expected to sustain globally at least in the near to medium term and may increase further if there is an increased usage of the latter in garments going forward.”

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