Interview with Dr. Graham Moore, Strategic Consultant, Smithers

Over the years you have seen a number of companies make the transition from commodity to specialty papers, what do the winners have in common?

A willingness to recognize and embrace the different attitude that is required to manufacture and service smaller, higher value orders. To move away from the 'tons through the door' mindset.

What are the key considerations for paper companies assessing a new market opportunity in specialty papers?

Thoroughly understand the market, end use customer needs and geographical and regional differences in product properties.

What impact do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the specialty papers market?

As with many companies it has necessitated companies to adapt to lower demands and to reduce costs where possible. It has also challenged companies to identify and exploit opportunities that have arisen - e.g., medical/diagnostic papers; barrier/sterile papers, etc.

As larger players have transitioned into specialties in recent years, what impact has that had on the market dynamics?

Not so much large players, but new entrants, e.g. from China, who are displacing traditional export markets for European and US specialty mills.

Which specialty paper markets do you think have the best growth prospects in the next 5 years?

Medical related; electrical related; filtration, niche packaging.