Smithers Pira Reports on Specialty Papers

LEATHERHEAD, SURREY, UK | Smithers Pira announces its latest report, entitled The Future of Specialty Paper to 2022. The specialty paper industry is changing as fast as the markets are moving, says the report. New machinery and technology is entering the markets, as the commodity printing and writing market went through rapid decline and now is slowly shrinking in the developed countries. This will tend to disrupt the specialty paper makers, as new technology will enable faster and wider machines to effectively and economically produce more technical specialty grades.

The report projects the global market for specialty papers in 2017 to be 24.16 million tonnes, and forecasts it to reach 26.98 million tonnes in 2022. This represents a CAGR of 2.2% in the five-yr period from 2017 to 2022.

“The regulatory environment continues to be complicated, driving changes in materials for health, safety and sustainability,” says Bruce W Janda, author of the report. “Specialty papers enjoy many opportunities for new product development to create new demand. Replacement of plastics with sustainable paper-based materials is a large opportunity. Disruptive technologies are coming into the market to support plastics replacement.”

Specialty papers have become even more important because commodity grades used for graphic communications, such as newsprint, freesheet, and coated printing papers, have declined abruptly over the past ten years in Western Europe and North America. Recent trends suggest that this may also be starting to happen in more recently developed markets such as China. This trend is expected to continue and spread to the other regional markets as digitalization of communications continues, says the study, adding that as the global graphic commodity papermaking universe contracts, specialty paper grades are becoming one of the forces for growth in the industry, along with tissue and packaging.

Several key common features of specialty papers are noteworthy, notes the report. They tend to be higher added-value products owing to their unique characteristics. These features often allow specialty producers to charge a premium. Consequently, they are perceived to lead to a better financial performance for the manufacturer. Specialty papers are also seen as useful product portfolio extenders for risk spread over several markets. Often the introduction of specialty papers arises from the availability of, or need to make use of, small-scale output machinery that would otherwise be shut down. The premium charged on the added value allows a producer to work machinery that would otherwise be too costly when making large-scale commodity products, where price competition tends to be fierce.

The report, which quantifies and segments the specialty paper market globally across 14 major countries and identifies opportunities and threats facing suppliers, was based on an in-depth combination of primary and secondary research. Primary research included telephone interviews used to generate an up-to-date and accurate picture of the market and to gather information on the specialty papers market that is not available from published sources. Secondary research was based on extensive literature analysis of published data and trends collected from leading players.

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