Tissue trade, like almost all trade, prefers a smooth, settled and thriving economic world. Exceptions occur when disruption, whatever the cause may be, enable a particular trade to thrive as others falter. Tissue saw varying sectional growth and decline during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hygienic tissue surged, as socialising tissue stalled. Both are now re-balancing, and the reality for tissue is being shaped by vital new priorities such as accentuated hygiene concern and longer-term production sustainability. In these extraordinary times, various challenges face global business, and tissue production and consumption, being a sensitive indicator of the state of economies, will be shaped accordingly. Here, Jacob Shapiro, Director of Geopolitical Analysis, Cognitive Investments, discusses how the countries with increasing demographic issues, developing manufacturing capacity, and changing access to resources will see rises in general growth, and tissue growth.
The globalisation recession accelerated in 2022 for two key reasons – the Russia-Ukraine war, and a deteriorating USA-China relationship. I like to think of global trade as comparable to water flows – water, for instance, always flows from a high concentration to a low concentration, and water always finds cracks and holes to flow through – no matter how protectionist a country is being. It takes a real shock to the system to force trade flows to alter – but that is exactly what the Russia-Ukraine war did.
Countries that support Ukraine want nothing to do with Russia, and to the extent they are continuing to trade with Russia, it is out of necessity while they rebuild supply chains away from Russia. Countries that support Russia find themselves subject to sanctions and other potential challenges for trade market access. Countries that are trying to be pragmatic – think Brazil, Turkey, or even China – are enjoying the best of both worlds, but for how long?
Which leads into the second major issue – the USA-China relationship. In June 2022, it looked like the USA was considering a temporary halt to the trade war – the White House was leaking the notion of suspending Trump era tariffs. Then, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, China, and the situation nosedived. China won, and not only did the tariffs stay on, but the USA passed major semiconductor trade restrictions far worse than anything either Trump or Obama pushed through. There has been some softening toward the end of the year, but overall the decoupling between the USA and China economies continues.
While it is starting at the level of strategic, dual-use products like semiconductors, it will eventually bleed into all aspects of the bilateral, from agricultural goods to tissue paper products.
While Asia is technically the region of fastest growth, we need to keep in mind that that has been true for decades, and that the primary reason behind all the Asian growth miracles – Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, China – was taking advantage of globalisation. If I am right about the globalisation recession – and for the record, the jury is still out, I think it is trending in the direction of my forecast, but things could still turn around – then Asia is going to be the place where geopolitics and trade clash head-on, as it is the most geopolitically competitive region in the world. Trade as a percentage of GDP has been declining for half a decade now for the region’s countries.
Additionally, most of the region is far more dependent on hydrocarbons than the West and has been struggling as European buyers flood the market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal, and muscle Asian countries out (we are seeing this play out right now in places like Pakistan and Vietnam). I expect Asia to be geopolitical ground zero in the coming years and would advise companies to not think in terms of the region itself but on individual bets on individual countries, each with their own politics, alliances, and geopolitical priorities. There is still opportunity in Asia, but there is also extremely elevated risk. I think 2023 will be another difficult year from an energy price perspective. I am more optimistic about the potential for lower energy prices in 2024, and really 2025 and beyond, when a glut of LNG comes on the market, we get another two to three years of renewables coming online and some of the malinvestment in traditional energy sources like hydrocarbons is reversed, but until we get there I expect volatility and severe price swings.
I was wrong about the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022 – I didn’t think it would happen – so I hesitate to make any predictions about 2023. But past mistakes can’t prevent me from at least attempting to offer readers some insight. I do not think either Kyiv or Moscow is eager to end the war, and I could see it continuing throughout the entire year. The recent decision by the West to supply Ukraine with tanks is a disturbing indication that the war could resume when the spring weather arrives more than markets are anticipating. At the time of going to print, Russia is mobilising hundreds of thousands of more troops, which suggests Moscow is digging in for a long war. I am getting increasingly more pessimistic about the war and of any kind of stability emerging in the near-term.
I think things could get slightly better between the USA and China this year. China is reeling from the Covid-19 lockdowns, a massive real estate bubble, and now the new USA semiconductor restrictions. President Xi Jinping has big dreams for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and many of the Chinese Communist Party’s big goals were for 2025, but I think Beijing may admit to itself it has to push those back and strive for a little more accommodation in the short-term. Make no mistake, the long-term is still negative, but because of China’s weaknesses, I could see it making concessions to relieve pressure on its economy.
I am keeping a very close eye on Turkish politics this year. The country is moving into a decisive election over the summer. I’m less interested in the result and more interested to see if Turkey can reach a democratic decision that the entire country supports, and which does not lead to internal conflict or strife. If it does, I will be feeling even more confident in my bullish position on Turkey going forward. There are some very interesting developments to track in pariah states like Iran, Venezuela, and even Cuba. Iran is facing some of the most serious anti-government protests in decades. Could we see a change in government in Iran that leads to a more accommodating political environment and more market access for Western companies? It is a longshot, but the upside would be tremendous.
In Latin America, the USA is showing signs it will reconsider some of its ideologically driven bilateral relations. They are just early signs, but a true softening between the USA and Venezuela and/or Cuba would be massive from a geopolitical perspective.
I am very bullish about Brazil and I think the concern about Lula as President is misplaced. He faces significant opposition at the domestic level – this is not 2003 all over again, and the Brazilian economy is showing a lot of positive signals.
Demographic growth will be concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Middle East and Southeast Asia. However, I do not expect that is where we will see the biggest increases in GDP per capita.
In a multipolar geopolitical world, the countries that are best suited to success are either so small as to be non-threatening and to function as financial centres/gateways to rival blocs, or are large enough to ensure economy of scale and market access for its countries. Examples of countries that fit the bill of this profile are Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, South Africa, and India. Each of these come with downside risks of course, but they each have the demographics, the manufacturing capacity, and the access to resources to succeed in a more geopolitically competitive world.
Depending on how the Russia-Ukraine war goes, Eastern Europe and Central Asia could either be phenomenal opportunities or absolute stay-aways. I am increasingly optimistic about Eastern Europe – someone will have to rebuild Ukraine, after all – and more cautious on Central Asia, but it is hard to make a definitive call there while the war continues.
Liying Qian, Head of Tissue and Hygiene, Euromonitor International, reports on growth in the global tissue market for TWM.
• Retail tissue demand is projected to sustain growth momentum similar to pre-pandemic with 3% and 6% CAGR growth 2022-2027 in real value (USD, fixed change, without inflation) and volume, while nominal value sales are projected to grow at about 5% CAGR for the same period.
• Paper towel is expected to be the top performer in volume and value throughout forecast period, benefitting from increased home cooking, heightened hygiene routine and expanded demand for convenient multi-purpose cleaning agent.
• Retail tissue is expected to grow roughly 6% and 5% in nominal value (USD, fixed exchange) in 2023 and 2024 year-over-year, while increasing nearly 3% and 6% in real value (USD, fixed exchange, without inflation) and volume, respectively, for both years.
• Retail tissue demand is projected to further normalise from peak of pandemic demand and eventually resume marginal year-over-year growth pattern over the 2022-2027 forecast period, with volume and real value sales contracting at a marginal five-year CAGR (-0.1% and -0.5%, respectively) while nominal value sales growing at about 2% CAGR.
• Nonetheless, overall and per capita retail tissue volume consumption is expected to stay above pre-pandemic levels throughout the forecast period, mainly supported by strengthening population and disposable income, heightened hygiene awareness as well as flexible work.
• Toilet paper is expected to be the top performer in volume and value throughout forecast period, benefitting from enduring hybrid and remote working practice and subsequent increased at-home needs.
• Retail tissue is expected to grow roughly 2% in nominal value (fixed exchange) in 2023 and 2024 year-over-year, but decline nearly 1% in 2023 and more marginally in 2024 in both real value (fixed exchange, without inflation) and volume for respective years.
• Retail tissue demand has picked back up growth momentum in 2022 from a destocking-led contraction a year ago. Moving forward, it is projected to track about 3% and 2% CAGR growth 2022-2027 in real value (USD, fixed change, without inflation) and volume, while nominal value sales growing at about 7% CAGR for the same period.
• Paper towel is expected to be the top performer in volume and value throughout forecast period, benefitting from heightened health and hygiene awareness.
• Retail tissue is expected to grow roughly 9% and 8% in nominal value (USD, fixed exchange) in 2023 and 2024 year-over-year, while increasing nearly 3% and 2% in real value (USD, fixed exchange, without inflation) and volume, respectively, for both years.
• Retail tissue demand is projected to grow at about 3% CAGR growth 2022-2027 in real value (USD, fixed change, without inflation) and volume, while nominal value sales growing at about 23% CAGR for the same period, reflecting outsized inflation effect.
• Paper towel is expected to be the top performer in volume and value throughout forecast period, benefitting from its versatile cleaning capacity.
• Retail tissue is expected to grow roughly 48% and 29% in nominal value (USD, fixed exchange) in 2023 and 2024 year-over-year, given elevated inflation. Besides, it is projected to grow about 2% and 3% in both real value (USD, fixed exchange, without inflation) and volume for respective years.