The European market for natural fibre table linen is fairly stable. Most imports originate from developing countries, which offers you interesting opportunities. The middle and high-end market segments have the most potential. To supply these segments you need to pay particular attention to design and quality. Working with sustainable materials and co-creation can give you a competitive edge.
1. Which European markets offer opportunities for exporters of natural fibre table linen?
European imports of natural fibre table linen are fairly stable, with developing countries as the leading suppliers. Europe’s main importers of natural fibre table linen are Germany, France and Italy. The strong imports from developing countries make Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom especially interesting focus countries.
The European production and consumption statistics cover table linen made of cotton or flax, because these data do not distinguish any further between natural and synthetic fibres.
Where is consumer demand?
European demand for cotton or flax table linen decreased between 2012 and 2016. With an average annual growth rate of −3.2%, it fell to €225 million in 2016. European demand for cotton or flax table linen is highest in France at €49 million. Italy and Germany follow with €38 million each.
What is the role of European production in supplying European demand?
Europe’s demand for cotton or flax table linen is considerably higher than its production. This drives the need for imports, making Europe an interesting market. European production of cotton or flax table linen decreased between 2012 and 2016. With an average annual growth rate of −3.0%, it fell to €156 million in 2016. Italy is responsible for 23% of European cotton or flax table linen production. France and Portugal follow with 18% and 12% respectively.
2. Which countries are most interesting in terms of imports from developing countries?
European imports of natural fibre table linen were relatively stable at around €270 million between 2012 and 2016. In the coming years, European imports are expected to stay around this level.
Developing countries are Europe’s main source of natural fibre table linen imports. They supply 58%, amounting to €154 million. This share is also predicted to remain fairly stable in the coming years. In reality, much of the table linen imported from western European countries concerns re-exported products manufactured in developing countries.
Germany is Europe’s leading importer of natural fibre table linen by far, at €57 million in 2016. France (€41 million) and Italy (€35 million) follow. Germany is also leads in imports from developing countries. It sources 74% of its imports from developing countries.
Italy and the United Kingdom also have particularly strong markets for developing country imports, accounting for 68–91% of their total natural fibre table linen imports! The strong performance of developing country suppliers in Italy and the United Kingdom is evidenced further by strong increases between 2012 and 2016. These countries increased their imports from developing countries by €8.3 million and €4.7 million respectively.
India dominates European table linen imports, with 29% in 2016. Other leading developing country suppliers are China (8.7%), Turkey (6.2%), Egypt (3.8%), Pakistan (3.3%) and Tunisia (2.5%).
Tips: Study your options in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Their strong imports from developing countries make them especially interesting markets.
The upcoming Brexit (Great Britain leaving the European Union) has decreased the value of the British pound. As a result more British buyers have started importing directly from developing countries, rather than buying from European importers. However, as the situation is still fluid and insecure, you should keep a close watch on developments.
Compare your products and company to the strong competition from India, as well as from China, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan and Tunisia. You can use ITC Trademap to find exporters per country. You can compare on market segment, price, quality and target countries.