Paper Products Manufacturers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,100 companies in the US manufacture paper products by cutting, shaping, coating, or laminating paper and other materials. End products are often referred to as converted paper goods. Product categories include paperboard containers, paper bags, coated and treated paper, stationery products, and sanitary products.

Variability in Raw Materials’ Costs

The paper industry is cyclical and cost of wood pulp (primary material in paper manufacturing) can fluctuate depending on global supply and demand.

Competition from Imports

Imports of converted paper products have grown at a healthy rate over the last decade.

Industry size & Structure

A typical paper product manufacturer employs 117 workers and generates $57-58 million annually.

    • The paper product manufacturing industry consists of about 2,100 companies that employ about 272,500 workers and generate $123 billion annually.
    • The 50 largest firms account for 62% of industry revenue.
    • Some large companies are vertically integrated and own paper mills.
    • Large companies include Kimberly-Clark, WestRock (formerly RockTenn and MeadWestvaco), and Amcor (Bemis Company).
                          Industry Forecast
                          Paper Products Manufacturers Industry Growth
                          Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                          Recent Developments

                          Sep 28, 2023 - Paper Shipments Rise
                          • In mid-2023, US shipments of paper products increased slightly compared to year-earlier levels; the value of paper inventories was essentially flat over the same period. As of mid-Q2 2023, producer prices changed by paper product manufacturers were also flat, but industry wages were up moderately over the same period. Rising wages and flat price growth combined with weak shipments growth could suggest higher labor costs are pinching some paper manufacturers margins. At midyear, employment in the paper products industry was down slightly compared to the same period in 2022.
                          • In September, US packaging firm Westrock and Ireland-based Smurfit Kappa announced they would combine to form a new firm, Smurfit Westrock, which will be headquartered in Ireland. With revenue of about $34 billion, the combined company would be the world’s largest publicly-listed packaging firm. Smurfit Westrock’s North and South American operations will be headquartered in Atlanta. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2024.
                          • Total US printing-writing (P-W) paper shipments dropped 20% in August compared to the same month in 2022, according to the American Forest & Paper Association (AFPA). However, all three grades of P-W paper – coated free sheet, uncoated free sheet, and mechanical – saw shipments rise in August compared to July. US packaging papers and specialty packaging shipments declined 4% in August, year-over-year, according to the AFPA. Shipments of food wrapping paper, the largest subgrade of bleached packaging papers, were down 16.4% in the first eight months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
                          • Increased demand for flexible packaging is expected to be the chief growth driver for specialty paper demand, according to a recent report by market research firm Smithers. The specialty paper market in 2023 was about 26.5 metric tons, and it is expected to post average annual growth of 2.1% through 2028, reaching a volume of 29.5 million metric tons. Driven in part by rising global demand for on-the-go foods, by 2028, flexible packaging is projected to account for 52% of worldwide specialty papers growth. By 2028, Smithers expects barrier-coated paper will be a common alternative to plastic and laminated products. Driven by demand in China and India, the Asia Pacific region will post the strongest growth through 2028, while the mature North American and Western European markets will notch the slowest growth.
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