The Pulp & Paper industry underwent some significant changes in 2020 – some expected, some unexpected – but the industry as a whole emerged from a tumultuous year in a relatively strong position. 1Q2021 wasn't without its challenges but there is a palpable, if guarded, sense of optimism as vaccines are now being deployed at scale, lockdown orders are lifted, and society seems to be opening back up in many parts of the world. In the business environment, in particular, there is also a genuine desire to keep the economic engines moving with an awareness of the lessons learned in 2020.
In light of these changes and quickly evolving global markets, we want to share the topics that resonated the most with visitors to Fisher International’s blog in 1Q2021.
The Top 5 Most Popular Blog Posts of 1Q20211. Market Pulp Price Surge: What’s Driving Prices Higher?
Market pulp is a critical global commodity within the pulp and paper industry. As such, market pulp is a constant fixture in global trade flows because of its primary role in manufacturing numerous paper grades.
Market pulp prices have always been volatile and kraft market pulp, in particular, saw some of its lowest prices in the last 10 years in 2020. However, 2021 has brought price increases with skyrocketing spot prices in February and early March. Between December 1, 2020 and late February 2021, bleached softwood kraft futures were up 48% on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFI), and additional price increases have been announced, leaving buyers wondering what has happened and when it will end.2. Do You Know How to Fix What’s Slowly Killing Your Company?
Robust, competitive markets force participants in those markets to learn how to serve their customers in more efficient, cost effective ways, or else they risk going extinct. In our own experience, however, Fisher has found that companies can sometimes fall victim to “inertia” – a tendency to do things over and over in the same way, which is often driven by biases that we all have as humans.3. Whakatane Mill Expected to Close After Nearly 80 Years of Operation
Bay Plenty’s Whakatane mill is expected to shut down after nearly 80 years of operation, which unfortunately, is not surprising due to the mill's poor viability ranking. The New Zealand-based mill was built in 1939 and before being sold to Reynolds Group in 2010, it was part of International Paper. However, in 2014, Reynolds Group divested its SIG Combibloc business to the Canadian private-equity firm Onex — and the Whakatane mill was included in the sale.4. Could New Carbon Regulations Impact the Tissue Industry?
On January 20, 2021 Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, which capped off an especially contentious election season. The Biden administration has widely publicized that a key component of its vision for the country is pursuing clean energy to help mitigate the impacts of climate change; he even wrote one of the first climate bills in the US Senate.
How could this new administration and its push for clean energy affect the tissue industry?5. North American Tissue Demand Trajectory Through the Rest of the Pandemic
North America represents the world's most mature tissue market and maximum tissue consumption rate per capita. China and the Asian region have supplanted North America as the center of global tissue growth. However, North America's product and consumer trends are still predictive of potential trends in the developing regions.