Special Report: The Three Ps - Smart Specifying, The Paper Principle
Paper prices have remained relatively stable and predictable since the tumultuous mid-1990s, but don’t let these quiet times fool you.
It’s no secret that the paper industry is going through major restructuring, with plenty of mergers and acquisitions. In the last few years alone, major players like Sappi, International Paper and Mead Paper have all played in M&A games.
In April, Ron Davis, the Printing Industries of America’s chief economist, told WhatTheyThink.com, “The wave of paper company mergers and acquisitions over the last few years is an attempt by paper companies to reduce overcapacity in the paper industry. Although there’s been some mill restructuring, there’s still plenty of worldwide capacity coupled with a generally soft worldwide demand.”
These mergers and acquisitions have yielded benefits and challenges for paper producers and clients alike. Many of these deals have promised to streamline mill operations and provide more efficient means for distribution.
But an industry ripe with buy-ups and newly forming partnerships often leaves print buyers and their suppliers anxious—uneasy about pricing shifts and customer service. All the more reason for catalogers to become more active in specifying substrates for their print titles, said Mike Evans, market development manager, DuPont White Pigment and Mineral Products, at the April 2002 Print Oasis conference.
Fortunately, some paper suppliers can lend a hand to help educate end users. Some hold regional seminars, while others would be happy to provide you with more literature on paper fundamentals then perhaps you’d like on your desk. Still others are employing the Web to communicate with printers, distributors, merchants and catalogers.
International Paper is exemplary of how paper producers are reaching out to catalogers—enabling them to make smart specification and buying decisions. “We recently added a lot of features to our Web site,” explains Kim McGowan, advertising manager, Coated and SC Papers Division, International Paper.