APP at Paperex 2017

APP at Paperex 2017
Suresh Kilam

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the largest paper and pulp producer in the world, is an Indonesian company with significant presence in Indonesia, China, Western Europe and North America. The 40-year-old company deals in writing and printing paper, packaging boards and tissues. APP participated in Paperex 2017 with a motive to interact with customers, understand their needs in a better way, cater to their demands with existing solutions, and offer a glimpse of new products that will be launched by the company in the near future.

“Paperex is an excellent platform for knowledge sharing. Many prominent names are present at the event and one won’t get a better chance to interact with industry giants. Generally, none of us get a chance to interact with each other and share information,” said Suresh Kilam, executive director, Sinar Mas Group, Indonesia and China..

The company doesn’t have a manufacturing unit in India yet. It used to have one in Bhigwan near Pune, Maharashtra, which APP later sold to Ballarpur Industries Limited in 2001. Currently, APP only exports paper out of the above countries where they have manufacturing units. It also sells pulp as a raw material to the industry.

“My estimate is that the demand for paper in India in the next 7-10 years will double. India is a dynamic market. The current demand lies at 11.5 million tons, which will surely go up to the 24-25 million ton mark. However, there is a crunch in availability of raw material,” Kilam added.

Raw materials for the paper industry are classified into two types—virgin fiber, which is used for manufacturing writing and printing paper, and OCC paper (also known as waste paper) used for packaging products. India lacks these raw materials and hence will have to depend upon imports from other countries.

China currently has around 3000 paper mills out of which 10 prominent ones control 80% of the market share. In the coming days, India might also witness the same with a handful of players enjoying 80-90% of the market share. The overall production of writing and printing paper is declining by 1.8% annually.

“Ten years down the line, the writing and printing paper industry in Western Europe and North America is most likely to shut down,” said Kilam. The Indian paper industry is growing by 7-8% annually, of which the writing and printing paper segment is witnessing a lopped growth of only 3%.

Most of the upcoming innovations, according to the spokesperson, is going to happen in the paper packaging segment or tissue manufacturing segment. Going forward, APP has plans to set up a corrugation plant in India. The company feels that the packaging industry in India has a good potential and hence it looks forward to being a part of the Indian packaging industry. APP has already identified a few locations for its upcoming corrugation plant and is looking forward to set up a paper mill in India in the next 3-4 years.  

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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