Esko Uutela, Consultant, RISI
April 1, 2013
The biannual Tissue World Conference and Exhibition celebrated its 20th anniversary last month. Instead of being held in the Acropolis Convention and Exhibition Centre of Nice, where this main event traditionally used to be located, it took place in the new and spacious Fira de Barcelona Convention Centre in Gran Via, Barcelona. Two years ago, UBM Asia distributed a questionnaire asking the most suitable location for the next event, and many exhibitors (but not all, as Italian companies in particular continued to favor Nice for its proximity to Lucca) suggested a move from the old and impractical facilities in Nice to a new location, and Barcelona was the winner. It was unknown how successful the trade fair and conference would be in the new location due to the greater distance from Italy, but based on comments by the organizer, both the number of conference participants (around 330) and exhibition visitors (more than 1,000 on the first day, close to 1,700 on the second) exceeded expectations. Some Italian exhibitors were missing, mostly in the converting and packaging sector, but even so, there were more than 20 Italian companies among the 175 exhibitors with a booth at the fair, as well as many new faces. All in all, my personal opinion is that Tissue World Barcelona 2013 was a big success, and at least the next show will again be held in Barcelona.
Sustainability was the key theme of the conference, particularly in the program on the first day. The use of recycled fiber in tissue was seen as an important issue, especially in the presentations by the WWF and Dutch retail chain Ahold. But this may be wishful thinking rather than reality for several reasons. First, there is a clear imbalance between tissue production (which continues to grow) and the availability of raw materials suitable for DIP that can be used in tissue. Graphic paper consumption is in free fall in developed countries, the main supplier of high grade deinking globally, keeping recovered paper prices too high for the use of secondary fiber to be economically attractive. Consumers are not willing to pay extra for ecological reasons, and as companies cannot easily pass increased raw material costs on to prices of tissue products, the logical solution is to use virgin pulp as an alternative raw material. Second, quality upgrading is an important demand driver in most regional markets and virgin pulp offers qualitative advantages over other materials. Third, investment costs in a new mill with a deinking plant are substantially higher than those of a mill with stock preparation for virgin pulp use. It should also be noted that in the strongest growing market, China, recovered paper use in tissue has traditionally been paralleled by people to low quality and low hygienic standard. Probably for this reason, it is not allowed in products such as facial tissue and napkins, according to Chinese regulations. New Chinese mills mainly use wood pulp as their raw material and practically none of them use recovered paper. Additionally, recent trends do not support increasing recycled fiber use for tissue in the developed regions.
- Esko Uutela, Principal, Tissue, is the author of RISI's Outlook for World Tissue Business Study, the WorldTissue Business Monitor and the US Tissue Monthly Data. He works out of RISI's EU consulting office close to Munich, Germany, and can be reached at: Tel: +49-8151-29193 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an excerpt from a full story that is available in RISI's Pulp & Paper News Service.
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