Sappi Europe has pledged to develop at least one new speciality packaging substrate a year as it works to reposition itself as a packaging innovator.
Sales and marketing director at Sappi Speciality Papers Thomas Kratochwill said the company had a number of products in development ready for 2016 and 2017 launches but would not reveal how many.
As part of the strategy Sappi released a white hybrid folding box board, Atelier, in March and is taking that and other products such as the Algro Sol line of silicone base papers to Labelexpo Europe in Brussels and Pack Expo Las Vegas, in September, as a first-time exhibitor. The latter will extend Sappi’s business to the US.
Kratochwill said: “We want to get away from being a pure substrate supplier to a company that’s offering packaging solutions."
The company is creating a division for speciality papers at its Alfeld Mill in Germany, now a 100% specialty paper mill following a £60m rebuild of its PM2 paper machine that was completed last year. Sappi currently produces 300,000 tons of speciality paper, most of which is used in the packaging industry, a small portion of its total 5.7m ton output.
It hopes to benefit from growing consumer preference for paper-based packaging driven by environmental concerns and a changing demographic profile.
Cost reduction and a desire to decrease packaging weight were other drivers, Kratochwill added.
He referenced an Easyfairs study that found that cost reduction was the most important factor driving packaging decisions, followed by enhanced brand image and environmental impact, in a survey of 2,589 packaging professionals in 2012.
“We don’t want to say that plastics is our competition or we are totally against plastics. The plastics market is very big, we can’t replace that with paper solutions, it’s impossible. But when it makes sense to replace it, we try to give brand managers and companies another solution.”
He said two such alternatives are Algro Guard and Leine Guard, recyclable papers with integrated mineral oil barriers developed in collaboration with BASF and Eurofins, launched at Interpack 2014.
Sappi, which has 13,000 employees worldwide and a turnover of just over $6bn in 2014, said it planned to achieve success in the packaging market by a four-pronged approach: being seen as an innovative solutions provider, having an excellent end user network, being a strategic alliance partner with a global footprint and size and being a “sustainable partner”.