Nippon Paper Crecia Co. President Mr. Kazufumi Yamasaki outlines focus on product development to meet challenges of rapidly changing market and the possibility of a third wave of the virus.
TWM/1: How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your company and how have you responded?
“People’s hygiene habits and awareness have been changed throughout society to adopt the “new life style” recommended by the government. For this reason, products such as hand towels and wet wipes grew significantly as antivirus measures.”
TWM/2: And on the local tissue market?
“From February, the rate of the infection spread began to appear, and in March and April, the momentum didn’t slow down. Since the Japanese people refrained from going out due to the stay-at-home request by the government, consumers enhanced household stockpiles such as tissue products and consumables from staying at home. As a result, “panic buying” occurred and some products disappeared from the store.”
TWM/3: What increases in volume for tissue products have you seen and do you expect that increase to continue in the longer-term?
“Hand towels and wet wipes were in high demand. Especially hand towels, which grew rapidly to be used as an alternative to jet air towels in office buildings. This tendency is expected to continue and grow for the time being since the demand of the restaurants and hotels to welcome foreign tourists, who had been stagnant due to immigration restrictions, is going to gradually recover.”
TWM/4: What are your projections for how the AfH market swill evolve?
“The AfH market is expanding from the restaurant and hotel business to theme parks and sports gyms and economic recovery in the stagnant manufacturing industry such as machine tools would be recovered, so the market is expected to grow to some extent.”
TWM/5: Are you seeing an increase in private label products, away from branded tissue products?
“Since not only our company but also other domestic tissue makers are aiming for coexistence with private label products, we anticipate that these products will increase.”
TWM/6: What changes and trends do you forecast for the changes to people’s buying habits?
“Depending on the property of the products, the type of consumers is divided into two: the ones who prefer price-oriented products, and the others who prefer quality-oriented products. We expect the products that meet each requirement will grow.”
TWM/7: What are your plans for growth in terms of machinery investments or organic growth over the next year or two?
“We will invest management resources in the rapidly growing product category to build a thorough production system. Also, we will work on improving the efficiency of production system as well as upgrading the existing old machines or equipment.”
TWM/8: How is the Covid-19 situation now in your local markets?
“Now that we are facing the second wave of Covid-19 and having new cases every day, including in Tokyo, the impact on the market is immeasurable. Although we are expecting some effect from the government’s measures being gradually activated, with the situation which is changing every moment as well as the possibility of the third wave arrival, we would say it will be difficult to predict the entire impact on the market.”
TWM/9: In terms of e-commerce, do you forecast more and more people will start going online to buy their tissue and towel products?
“We anticipate that more and more people will purchase tissue and towel products online.”
TWM/10: What are the main opportunities and challenges for you and the tissue market in the next few months?
“The range of use of facial tissues, hand towels, wet wipes and kitchen towels has begun to vary due to the change of wiping scenes that matches “our new lifestyle”. It seems that the separating line of the usage among these products is disappearing. We would like to focus on developing new product category to meet a wide range of customer requirements.”