By Liz White, UT staffGreenville, South Carolina-US foam product maker Span-America Medical Systems Inc. said in its third quarter results statement that the price it pays for polyurethane foam will rise 10 to 37 percent on 7 Nov-plus a 10 percent surcharge for most types. The medical, consumer and industrial foam parts maker pointed out that, "we do not expect Span-America to be on allocation for any key foam raw materials," and said it thinks the current difficulties are mostly short term. "We believe the higher foam costs will be mostly a short-term problem since they are being caused by Gulf Coast hurricane-related disruptions in the supply of certain chemicals used in the foam manufacturing process," the firm said. But it added that some of the price increases may be longer-term, as they are related to higher natural gas costs."Near term, our outlook is clouded by the current pricing and supply situation for polyurethane foam, our largest raw material category." Polyurethane foam represented about 44 percent of the total cost of goods sold by Span-America in fiscal 2005, said the firm. Span-America plans to raise prices, but does not expect to recoup all its higher raw material costs-due to competition in certain markets and pricing established in certain contracts, it explained. "We expect that the higher foam prices could reduce our earnings in the first quarter of fiscal 2006, but we cannot quantify the effect until we have some operating history with the increased costs, potential shifts in demand and related competitive factors," the statement continued. Span-America's total sales rose 3 percent to $14.1 million and net income jumped 55 percent to $922 000, compared with the fourth quarter of last year "due to strong performance from our medical business," said Jim Ferguson, president and chief executive officer of Span-America Medical Systems. "Total medical sales rose 59 percent to $9.4 million compared with $5.9 million in the fourth quarter of last year, more than offsetting the decline in lower-margin consumer bedding sales in our custom products segment," he added. Ferguson pointed out that sales of consumer bedding are "under continued pressure from imports from China and visco foam products that are capturing an increasing share of pillow and mattress pad sales."In particular the group saw pillow sales decline 66 percent, following the loss of business at a large customer to a product made in China."