Smithers Pira’s latest report, The Future of Specialty Paper to 2022, 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-year period from 2017 to 2022.
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. 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. 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.