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 user 2005-03-28 at 10:28:00 am Views: 114
  • #11125
    Paper Chases

    Emerging Trend: The
    digital-paper market is the fastest-growing sector of the paper industry.

    Why:Ninety percent of business
    printing is now digital (i.e., derived from a computer file and transferred to
    paper via toner, rather than with traditional lithography’s ink and oil
    processes). “These papers need to be dry and durable,” says Find/SVP basic
    industries consultant Ann Romeo. “This is what we should be using in our home
    offices,” she continues, “and digital photography is really driving the consumer
    side.” (High-speed color laser printing is expected to increase 40% over the
    next three years.)

    Paper has traditionally been commoditized, notes Romeo, but the competition for
    the digital market has spurred strong branding efforts, especially by
    Meadwestvaco , Mohawk Paper Mills and Xerox . Retailers are
    eyeing this niche, too, and R&D has grown as companies strive for an
    inexpensive all-purpose paper (coated digital photo paper, for instance, costs
    over one dollar per sheet). Marketing efforts will reinforce branding and
    emphasize the importance of using the right paper for the job. “Companies see
    this market as a way of expanding their capacities,” says Romeo, and are looking
    next at the packaging segment. “Eventually, anything that has to be customized
    will go this route.”

    Digital printing hasn’t yet made significant inroads into commercial printing
    (books, marketing collateral), and since the same companies serve both sectors,
    a strategic balancing act will be necessary. And with paper companies and their
    retail channels–Office Depot and Staples for example–both
    focused on branding, “ripeness is all” before turf wars start confusing

    Companies to watch:
    Meadwestvaco, Mohawk Paper Mills, Xerox, Eastern Paper, SMART Papers