The effects of the pandemic have hit the various regions and nations of the world disproportionately. Our Regional Report from Southeast Asia makes that point firmly.

Helen Morris, Senior Editor, Tissue World Magazine
Helen Morris, Senior Editor, Tissue World Magazine

While in China, the regional report in TWM’s last edition, reports suggested that normal consumer activity was in place. It is a different picture in several of the 11 nations of the ASEAN region, the huge economic hinterland which to a greater or lesser degree trades in the slipstream of the superpower.

TWM has reported in the past from five of the ASEAN countries … Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. And from Thailand. In 2018 I spoke with Dr. Sumrit Yipyintum, managing director of Thailand’s RiverPRO, at the company’s Nongkae mill in the Saraburi province north of Bangkok.

The lasting impression from the trip was the immense potential for growth in the local tissue and towel markets. Consumption per capita was low, with just half of the then 68.86 million population using tissue, and tissue growth year-on-year was a steady 5-6%. Dr. Yipyintum anticipated substantial growth following the increased adoption of tissue habits through urbanisation, tourism and an ageing population.

Three waves of Covid have set that progress back, but not the hope. I have spoken again with Dr. Yipyintum, over Teams this time, and he has outlined the problems, changes and hopes RiverPRO has gone through. Stalled consumption growth, a slump in visitor traffic, curtailed exports to established markets in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, but creditably no loss of production and a firm belief that later this or next year will see a return of the essential tourist trade. New consumer habits acquired in the pandemic, increasing urbanisation, leaner and advanced production he is convinced, will see per capita usage rising once more. It has been, he says, “a big learning curve” in how to survive and prosper in the hardest of times.

Informa Markets announces the return of Tissue World events

The Tissue World Team is delighted to announce that the world’s largest dedicated Tissue Industry Trade Show is on schedule to return. At the time of publishing this May/June issue of TWM, event organisers Informa Markets had been given the go-ahead to hold our prestigious exhibition and conference at the Messe Düsseldorf on 21 – 23 September 2021. Over the past 14 months travel restrictions have made it impossible to see clients and peers in the same way as we did before the pandemic, and therefore we feel that it is more important than ever to bring the tissue community back together to plan for the future of the industry. We look forward to seeing you all again – in reality – in September.

Industry showing an extraordinary level of confidence

So vital to that future are digitalisation and Industry 4.0 … increasingly factors in the advances made across global production. They play a big part of the reasons for the high degree of confidence tissue companies have about the industry’s future. 

In MarketIssues, Ralf Möbus, Senior Executive at StepChange Consulting, takes a detailed look at both those trends … the benefits and the barriers.

The percentage of tissue respondents who have implemented one or more digitalisation project has reached 60%. Only 20% have not started any. The new skillsets of predictive analytics channel massive data collection to the physical processes of production. Traditional functions and departmental structures are replaced. That is a major upheaval. Skilled IT personnel will be vital. Will ROI be justified? His research reveals a remarkable level of confidence in the industry’s imminent recovery from the months of the pandemic crisis.

Companies in all sectors – 93% of pulp companies, 73% of tissue companies – expect expansion of the overall markets, and positive growth in 2021 with economies remaining flat in the first months of the year before accelerating.

Pricing and margin management, product development and cost reduction are the main priorities.