South Africa’s manufacturing sector saw 1.4% growth in 2022. Despite a slight downturn towards the end of the year, the third-quarter performance helped with the overall growth of the industry for the year. The year-end decline was caused by sustained load-shedding, which had a large impact on many manufacturing facilities and businesses.
Within the manufacturing industry, the clothing, textiles, footwear and leather (CTFL) sector also experienced an upturn in 2022. This is partly due to major local fashion retailers sourcing more South African products in an effort to reduce the reliance on Asian imports. The non-woven textiles industry, specifically, is on a growth path.
Romatex is a leading manufacturer of stitch-bonded non-woven material and other textiles in South Africa. The company contributed to the national manufacturing output in 2022 and is set to invest further in its facility and equipment in 2023. Stitchbond is a sustainable textile made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET).
Every year, we manufacture around 24 million square metres of this textile, which is enough to keep 54 million plastic bottles out of landfills and the environment. There are many uses for stitchbond, including recycled shopping bags, vertical window blinds, waterproof membranes and even eco-bricks.
Turbulent times in manufacturing
Although 2022 ended with a slight growth over the year before, there were some tough periods for the industry. Persistent power cuts contributed to a significant deterioration in production and output throughout the year. While the country see-sawed between various stages of load shedding, the manufacturing sector felt the pressure.
The largest growth within the sector took place between July and October 2022, but the nationwide move to higher levels of load shedding in November and December caused a decrease in output. This meant that purchasing prices fell to their lowest levels in over three years during December; further compounding cost pressures on manufacturers.
While the overall growth is positive, the underlying situation is more turbulent. The Absa business activity index reveals the correlation between power cuts and manufacturing output. “Sustained and intense load-shedding during the last month of 2022 was likely a key drag on the sector,” says Absa in a statement.
Impact of imports on textile output
The textile manufacturing sector has experienced a steady decline in output since the late 1990s due to cheap imports from Asia. Retailers and fashion brands started sourcing materials from China, India and Pakistan (to name a few) when trading sanctions against South Africa were lifted in 1998.
Over the last two decades, the value of textiles being imported outweighed the value of textiles being manufactured. Most of these imports come from East Asian countries, but a lot comes from within Africa – Swaziland, Lesotho and Mauritius are three of the biggest import markets for clothing and textiles currently.
However, local retailers and fashion brands are starting to look for more local suppliers. This is a welcome trend that will help to stabilise the industry and contribute positively to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Romatex largely supplies these retailers and hospitality companies in South Africa. For more information about our various products and textiles, please contact us today.