TWM Interview: Manuel Dizon, CEO – International, Global Tissue Business Unit, Asia Pulp & Paper

Manuel Dizon joined Asia Pulp & Paper as CEO – International, Global Tissue Business Unit in January 2017. He has more than 20 years of general management, sales, and marketing experience with companies including Coca-Cola, Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble. A TWM report.

TWM/1 What is your vision for APP’s AfH and retail tissue products globally?

Dizon: “Our goal at APP is to continue to bring quality tissue to the marketplace at an affordable price, all while growing our sustainable solutions offerings.

“On a global level, we’re aiming to mirror the success we have seen in Indonesia and China in other markets – including Australia, India and North America – while continuing to expand our Asian market share for both in-home and retail tissue products.”

TWM/2 What is your strategy to achieve that? 

Dizon: “APP has a distinct advantage in its size and structure. We are focused on creating a single, integrated approach to our business and production process, where AfH and retail are one global business instead of two separate lines.

“Because of this, we’re able to provide a value few others in our industry can: top-tier quality and sustainable sourcing options at a very competitive price.

“We have the opportunity to look at the industry with a global mindset and align production to match demand accordingly, whether it’s the growing AfH market in Australia, or the  overall upward trajectory in India and the Middle East.”

TWM/3 What new tissue capacity will APP have starting up in the coming years and are you targeting a specific geographical region for these start-ups?

Dizon: “We are seeing increased customer demand for tissue products, especially across Asian markets. This presents an opportunity to align our operations, promoting integration
instead of splitting tissue into multiple mills.

“We’re looking to add tissue capacity in the North Asia, ASEAN and Pacific regions.

“The new capacity will support our strategic growth plans for our International business while at the same time providing investment and jobs in the countries where we operate.”

TWM/4 How is the economy impacting your local tissue market and what trends and opportunities are there for APP? 

Dizon: “Sustainability is one of the biggest trends and opportunities we see. We promote a more complex approach to sustainability than simply recycling – one of our key value propositions is our sustainable forestry programme.

“By using rapidly renewable fibre from our sustainable plantations we are able to provide customers with alternative sustainable choices to simply recycled products.

“The growth in the overall market, of course, is a great opportunity – but the range of sustainable options we are able to provide is even greater.”

TWM/5 What product markets are you currently serving and in which products do you see growth opportunities? 

Dizon: “Tissue consumption is directly correlated with GDP per capita. As economies continue to expand, we see an increase in per capita consumption of tissue, both AfH and retail.

“This is a trend that we need to capitalise on. At the same time, we want to continue to provide consumers with a better experience.

“This is where our development and launch of innovative, value-added tissue products come into play, including bathroom, facial and kitchen tissue. We see this as a significant area of growth for the company.”

TWM/6 What innovations is APP working on and launching? 

Dizon: “APP has capabilities in every step of the process – from pulp, to production, to conversion. Our fully integrated approach gives us the opportunity to spend less resources on managing vendors, and more on developing renewable, sustainable solutions and innovative products.

“Our sustainability initiatives are a differentiator and at the core of everything we do. APP’s zero deforestation commitment ensures that the fibre used within its tissue products come from sustainably managed plantations. Absolutely no natural forests materials are used in the production of any products.

“The two primary tree species used by APP are Eucalyptus and Acacia. On average, these rapidly growing trees can be grown and harvested in a five year cycle.

“This allows APP to maintain and protect forest land, while growing its own steady supply of fibre, eliminating the need to use natural forest materials.”

TWM/7 What trends are you seeing within the industry overall? 

Dizon: “One of the growing trends we see in the tissue market is an increasing demand for sustainable products and this creates unique challenges in the tissue sector.

“Consumers historically have defaulted to a high  recycled content as the baseline of sustainability. However, in tissue that is not always possible.

“Our products still require a certain percentage of virgin fibre for whiteness, softness and strength.”

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