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Unifi and Cargill Dow Provide Update on NatureWorks(TM) PLA Developments


PARIS, June 11 - PRNewswire — Signifying a major advancement in the fibers industry, Unifi, Inc. (NYSE: UFI) and Cargill Dow LLC have announced several development breakthroughs that will bolster the commercial use and acceptance of NatureWorks(TM) fibers, a new material made entirely from annually renewable resources such as corn. These breakthroughs include the development of a 1 denier per filament yarn, success in package dyeing of air jet textured NatureWorks(TM) fiber yarn, and the availability of large-scale sampling in early 2002.

Unveiled at the 45th annual Expofil in Paris, France, these announcements mark the continued and rapid development of new, naturally based fibers that combine the best physical attributes of natural and synthetic materials. Unifi's advancements in spinning and texturing NatureWorks(TM) fibers means that many new clothing and fabric options could soon be in full-scale production.

“We have been successful in achieving commercially acceptable quality and consistency levels across several yarn counts,” said Lee Gordon, Unifi's senior vice president, product development and commercialization. “We have also seen great hand and performance results from the 1 denier per filament yarn, especially in fleece applications.”

Unifi has also achieved high quality and dye uniformity in package dyed air jet textured yarns made from NatureWorks(TM) fibers. Gordon noted that these yarns would be well suited for the upholstery market, particularly contract upholstery.

“As work with NatureWorks(TM) fibers continues, we believe that a true micro denier product is just around the corner,” added Gordon. “Our next steps include the development of package dyeing processes for false twist textured yarns and continued exploration of markets that require flame- retardant properties, both of which look very promising at this time.”

Both companies believe they will be in a position to do large-scale sampling in the first quarter of 2002. At that time, Unifi expects to have four yarn counts commercially available, including the new 1 denier per filament yarn. Limited quantities of yarn have been provided to mills in both Europe and the U.S. for fabric development. Unifi and Cargill Dow expect that a number of fabric introductions will take place during the second half of this year. Yarn and fabric samples will be available by the next Expofil in December.

Benefits of NatureWorks(TM) fibers include strong wicking performance, resiliency, UV resistance, low flammability, low smoke generation, good soiling resistance and stain removal. NatureWorks(TM) fibers provide a bridge between natural fibers, such as wool, cotton and silk, and conventional synthetics. NatureWorks(TM) complements natural products and combines performance advantages of both natural and synthetic materials. Created entirely from annually renewable resources, such as corn, NatureWorks(TM) fibers perform as well or better than their conventional synthetic alternatives and offer the added advantage of reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

According to Cargill Dow, significant progress has been made on the world- scale polylactide (PLA) plant, which is being built in Blair, Neb. The plant will have an annual capacity of 140,000 metric tons and is scheduled to begin commercial production in early 2002.

“We're excited about this plant and everything it represents,” said Andy Shafer, commercial director for fibers, Cargill Dow. “The ability to move from our current semi-works production with its limited capacity to the Blair plant will allow us to expand sampling with Unifi early next year. From the progress that Unifi is announcing today, and the fabrics that we anticipate will be introduced during the second half of this year, we are confident that NatureWorks(TM) fibers will be an important advancement in both woven and non- woven applications, offering new capabilities and infinite opportunities.”

Based in Greensboro, N.C., Unifi, Inc. (NYSE: UFI) is the largest producer and processor of textured yarns in the world. The company's primary business is the texturing, dyeing, twisting, covering and beaming of multi-filament polyester and nylon yarns. Unifi's textured yarns are found in home furnishings, apparel and industrial fabrics, automotive upholstery, hosiery, and sewing thread. For more information, please visit Unifi on the Web at www.unifi-inc.com.

Founded in 1997, Cargill Dow LLC is based in Minnetonka, Minn. It is the first company to offer its customers a family of polymers derived entirely from annually renewable resources with the cost and performance necessary to compete with packaging materials and traditional fibers. The company has achieved this breakthrough by applying its unique technology to the processing of natural plant sugars to create a proprietary polylactide polymer (PLA). Future applications of the technology could include use in injection blown molded bottles, foams, emulsions and chemical intermediaries. For more company information, please visit the Cargill Dow Web site at www.cargilldow.com.

CONTACT: Chuck Mattina of Quixote Group, 336-544-2402, or cmattina@quixotegroup.com, for Unifi, Inc.,
                 Mike O'Brien of Cargill Dow LLC, 952-742-0523, or Michael_O'Brien@cargilldow.com.

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