Last week, ND Paper, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd., announced that it is implementing a series of transformations at its Rumford Division to further expand into packaging grades.
The release states that "in its current configuration, the fully integrated Rumford Division operates three paper production lines, kraft and mechanical pulping assets, and a pulp dryer; its product mix is heavily weighted toward bleached grades serving printing and writing (P&W) markets. With the COVID-19 pandemic battering economic activity across the world, demand for P&W papers has plummeted; coated woodfree and coated mechanical papers - primary Rumford grades - are expected to decline 23.5% and 30.3% year-over-year, respectively, equivalent to over 1.4 million tons of output."
ND Paper also announced last Friday that there will be layoffs at the Rumford mill as it refocuses production to expand into packaging grades of paper.
We have been seeing a decline of fine paper grade sales for quite some time now. It seems that trend will only continue.
ND Paper is among several manufacturers that are converting their manufacturing operations from fine paper to packaging grades.
Norpac had announced last year that it was converting one of its Longview paper machines to produce packaging products.
The fine paper manufacturers that want to stay viable will make the transition into producing packaging grades.
Our CEO, Jim Thompson, has said for several years now that in the pulp and paper industry, if paper is manufactured for ideas (fine paper & newsprint), that sector is not only declining, but it will not bounce back; however, paper is manufactured for its basic principles (tissue and packaging) those sectors will only continue to increase.
Helen Roush is Executive Vice President of Paperitalo Publications.