It’s that time of year when everyone, including business leaders in every industry, sets goals and resolutions for the months ahead. Be it new product launches or expansion projects, the companies take note of the things that worked and things that didn’t from the previous year to make subsequent plans and strategies. Although the year began with an Omicron-led third wave in India, the paper industry seems to be better prepared now. After the first and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, proactive measures in ensuring availability of trucks, loading/unloading crew, etc. were put in place, which ensured the smoother flow of materials across the country.
As per a report by IPMA on the paper industry, India’s Exports of paper & paperboard in the first nine months of FY2021-22 have already overtaken record exports achieved in the entire FY2020-21.
Meanwhile, the paper industry has wholeheartedly welcomed the recent announcement of the government in Union Budget 2022-23 on the need for faster environmental clearance as part of its larger goal of ‘ease of doing business’, and legislative changes to promote agroforestry and private forestry to increase green cover in the country.
“A single window portal, PARIVESH, for all green clearances was launched in 2018. It has been instrumental in reducing the time required for approvals significantly. The scope of this portal will now be expanded, to provide information to the applicants. Based on the location of units, information about specific approvals will be provided. It will enable application for all four approvals through a single form, and tracking of the process through Centralised Processing Centre-Green (CPC-Green). The policies and required legislative changes to promote agroforestry and private forestry will be brought in,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the budget.
Mr. A.S. Mehta, President, Indian Paper Manufacturers Association (IPMA) and President & Executive Director, JK Paper Ltd. is optimistic about this development. “Policies and legislative changes to promote agroforestry will certainly provide a fillip to the efforts of the paper industry,” he said.
New innovations and trends are constantly emerging in the paper industry. The novel coronavirus has brought a focus on cleanliness creating new opportunities for tissue and toilet papers. Within the past year, the e-commerce boom has created a structural change in consumer habits. With the increase in online shopping, there has been a significant surge in corrugated and containerboard demand. According to a recent report by rating agency CRISIL, a strong revival in consumer spending amid the waning impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will help the paper packaging industry bounce back with a revenue growth of 15 percent this fiscal.
Talking about the key trends driving the growth of the paper industry, Mr. Rohit Pandit, Secretary-General, IPMA said “As the economy picks up after two difficult years, we expect demand for better quality packaging of FMCG products, booming e-commerce, rising healthcare spending, growth in pharma, packaged foods, and textile sectors, etc. to lead to increased demand for paperboard/packaging paper. The reopening of educational institutions across the country should revive the demand for the writing & printing segment. Implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in the coming months should also significantly contribute to the demand for writing & printing paper. Hopefully, with the pandemic situation improving, demand for all paper grades will show a positive trend and surpass the pre-COVID levels during this year.”
Mr. Vadiraj Kulkarni, Chief Executive, ITC Ltd. – Paperboards & Specialty Papers Division feels that the demand in the paper industry will be based on the impact of current/new virus variants. “Companies will focus a lot on cost management, given the highest inflation increase seen in commodities and fuels. The shift from single-use plastics to sustainable materials like fiber will accelerate, given the increasing regulations on plastic waste and commitment by brand owners,” he added.
Meanwhile, the paper machinery manufacturers and suppliers see an opportunity and are gearing themselves to meet the rising demands of paper mills in the near future. “Our main focus is to seep into all corners of the Indian packaging industry starting from 60 TPD machines, bringing close to them, knowledge and technology, thereby tap every opportunity that the market presents itself – be it capacity or quality enhancement,” said Mr. Ranajoy Chowdhury, Managing Director, Bellmer India Pvt. Ltd.
As we step into 2022, Team Paper Mart initiates a detailed feature to gain insights on the strategies adopted by the paper industry for the year ahead, by interacting with paper mills, traders, associations, and other stakeholders.