In an interview with Paper Mart, Mr. Dipesh Laddha, Director, Kalpataru Papers LLP, presents an overview of the company, the key strengths, the growth strategies, the plans to set up a presence in Europe, and how the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a crucial impact on the overall demand for packaging paper.
Paper Mart: Could you please give us an overview of Kalpataru and its market presence?
Dipesh Laddha: Kalpataru Papers LLP is one of the leading exporters and converters for the paper and packaging board based out of India. The company’s head office is located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and it also has an overseas office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In Ahmedabad, we also have a converting facility with an in-house unit for poly-extrusion tool, sheeter, high-speed slitters, pallet wrappers, and a guillotine system that caters to customized sizes for the international customers. Besides exports, we have a vested interest in domestic customers for whom we import sack kraft, bleached kraft paper, and food board kraft liner from Europe and South America.
“The core strengths of our company are sourcing skills and understanding the nerve of the industry.”
PM: What do you think are the key strengths of the Company that will enable you to make your mark in the packaging industry?
DL: The core strengths of our company are sourcing skills and understanding the nerve of the industry. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a significant shift in consumption patterns in both the international and domestic markets. Conventionally packaged products were majorly dominated with the mono cartons or the master corrugated box, however, nowadays, there has been a rise in innovation in the food packaging segment.
Furthermore, the way we’re adapting to online food delivery is creating a whole new vertical in the packaging industry, with an increase in demand for paper bags, disposables, food wrappers, and sustainable and hygienic packaging. The e-commerce packaging segment has soared to its highest point since the outbreak of the pandemic, but the food packaging industry is also gearing up with new products on the shelves.
PM: What are your future plans and growth strategies for the coming years?
DL: We are planning to expand our converting facility to meet the needs of both the export and domestic markets. We realize and understand the fact that for a paper mill, there are many limitations to make different sizes suitable to the customer. Moreover, our plan to start our business operations in Europe will be implemented in 2021. Although the venture was planned for 2020, due to the outbreak of the pandemic, we could not execute it. Establishing a presence in Europe will present us with more exposure and better opportunities to offer recycled paper from India and beyond the Middle East, and further, it will also enhance our sourcing of raw material from the developed nations.
“The way we’re adapting to online food delivery is creating a whole new vertical in the packaging industry, with an increase in demand for paper bags, disposables, food wrappers, and sustainable and hygienic packaging.”
PM: How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the demand for packaging paper and how do you foresee the future?
DL: The pandemic has changed the entire dynamics of the packaging industry. In India, 90% of the mills producing paper are doing so by recycling the scrap/wastepaper and we are seeing a huge shortage in the recovery of recyclable waste. If we consider the post-pandemic scenario – the lowest grade of paper produced in India among the northern or southern region was priced around INR 23-24 per kg/material produced out of the lowest quality of waste, whereas, now the lowest grade would be produced on the average price of INR 40 per kg. This shows how the entire cycle of wastepaper going back to the mills has been disturbed resulting in a bigger mess for the local industry.
Due to the surge in prices, the investment at the both level – paper mills and the traders has gone up significantly. On the other hand, as China has banned the imports of recovered fibre like OCC (old corrugated cardboard), there has been a strong demand for OCC grades in India. However, India is majorly using the OCC to produce the paper pulp for China which has also disturbed the domestic corrugated market to a great extent.