Seascope multifold growth in three decades is consistent with its vision to emerge as a reliable source of waste paper and wood pulp requirements
Seascope Impex Pvt. Ltd., a leading indenting house, began operations more than two decades ago for waste paper and wood pulp, the vital raw material for paper industry. Today, the company is among the largest traders and indenting house of wastepaper and wood pulp in India and caters to almost 20 percent of the imported waste paper and wood pulp requirement of paper industry of the country.
For the year 2015, Seascope’s quantity spread was about 75 percent recovered Paper and 25 percent wood pulp, which is considerable by any means. Raw material sourcing has been a challenge for the Indian papermaking industry. “Our biggest challenge has been to keep up with the Chinese buying patterns and subsequent price fluctuations. Identifying the right sources and ensuring consistent buying patterns is imperative to securing the right raw material,” said Mr. Anil Birla, CEO, Seascope Impex Pvt. Ltd. during a brief interview with Paper Mart. Excerpts:
Paper Mart: To begin with, tell us something about Seascope Impex Pvt Ltd. How did it begin?
Anil Birla: I started my career working as a professional with companies involved in international trade. In the early 1980s, I had a belief that recycling, especially of paper, should have a great future in a country like India. India has always been a fibre deficient country. This prompted me to zero in on trading in recovered paper and wood pulp. Since then, Seascape as a Group has grown multifold and we today represent some of the largest names in the industry from almost every continent in the World. Our relationships with our partners go back a few decades.
PM: As a trading house, how has been your relationship with the Indian pulp and paper industry?
AB: We have had a much focused approach for over 3 decades now. Our tenacity has earned us tremendous goodwill and respect from the Industry itself. We are proud to be considered as a reliable and trustworthy partner and source for recovered paper and wood pulp needs of the Indian Paper Industry.
PM: Waste paper and wood pulp are two of your major supplies to the paper industry. What are their respective percentages and volumes you are dealing at present?
AB: We act as Agency for most of our suppliers from all over the world. For the year 2015, our quantity spread was about 75 percent recovered Paper and 25 percent wood pulp.
PM: What are major trends in waste paper import to India in recent years, volume- and country-wise? Is there a slowdown in waste paper export from US and Europe to India?
AB: USA continues to remain the most dominant supply base for most recovered papers into India. Middle East also acts as a strong supply base, owing to its proximity and quick delivery potentials. Out of Europe, United Kingdom is the more dominant supply source than Continental Europe. Supply out of Continental Europe is usually erratic because of demand within the Continent itself. While there has been some slowdown in Imports from Continental Europe in 2015, the quantities from USA have not reduced as such.
PM: As a raw material provider, what do you suggest to overcome the persistent challenge of raw material shortage?
AB: In an increasingly global economy, we will always be competing on securing the right fibre to feed the Indian paper industry. Our biggest challenge has been to keep up with the Chinese buying patterns and subsequent price fluctuations. Identifying the right sources and ensuring consistent buying patterns is imperative to securing the right raw material. While price is a market function, the supply demand equation will always pose a challenge.
We have other factors like currency and ocean freights which play a dominant role in pricing and buying decisions at both ends. For instance, we have seen downward corrections in the price of recovered paper and pulp over the last year because of weakening currencies and reduction on ocean freights (owing to crude oil price and supply glut). But, there is a floor to these prices, below which it is unhealthy for the Industry as a whole. Hopefully, we have seen such floor prices already and can only hope for more stability in the market. Volatility is unhealthy in the long run and it hence becomes fairly difficult to time the market. 2015 was a challenging year and because of the Variables at play, 2016 is not going to bode well either. We can only hope that the worst is behind us.
PM: What’s your take on the current growth sluggishness in the paper industry? Comment on the future outlook of the industry.
AB: I think that the present market scenario has to be seen in an overall global economic scenario. Sentiment has been beaten down for a few quarters now. However, India is perhaps better placed than a lot of other market places. We will continue to see growth in the Indian consumption patterns.
We are also at the cusp of a transition in packaging and hygiene industries, which can have a direct uptake from the paper industry. We foresee a healthy growth in packaging grades like Kraft and Value Added Boards.
Tissue Industry should also see a compounded growth rate, but it comes from a small base. Newsprint industry will face challenges, much at par with what is happening globally to this sector. Printing & Writing grades should have a healthy demand for some foreseeable future in India because of the growth in consumption and education in rural India.