Papermaker SCA has expanded its offering to include sheets, as it looks to gain share due to ongoing changes in the paper market.
The group, which is an integrated producer with its own forestry and pulp operations, is best known for its LWC/MWC coated and uncoated publication papers on reels.
However, shifting market dynamics including Stora Enso’s exit from coated woodfree production and the end of its Lumi grade, have opened up new opportunities.
Prior to the pandemic, around 140,000 tonnes of Lumi were sold annually in the UK, with supply set to draw to a close at the end of this year.
“The woodfree market has been hit massively due to the impact of Covid-19 on commercial printers, and there will be so much restructuring in the market,” commented SCA UK managing director Paul McCarthy.
“We saw the decline in woodfree, and thought about how white and bright our papers are. For example, GraphoVolume is white and has bulk. In 100gsm it can replace a 115gsm or 130 gsm woodfree.”
He added: “There is a cost benefit even if you don’t need a super white.”
McCarthy said the grade had been used for a recent Financial Times fashion supplement.
Other SCA coated grades include high-gloss GraphoCote and super-white GraphoSilk.
In its uncoated range, SCA claims that SCA Frontier FWP (fine wood containing paper) is the world’s brightest paper in its category and described it as “the perfect alternative to uncoated wood-free paper”.
Sheeting for the UK market is being handled by Middleton Paper in Walsall, with SCA looking to add further sheeting partners on the continent.
Middleton is an independent merchant and converter, and McCarthy described the firm as “very good partners for us”.
“We have started ramping up with Middletons, and are talking to the main merchants,” he added.
Middleton Paper managing director Jason Middleton said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with SCA providing a conversion service to the sheetfed print industry utilising our facility in the Midlands.”
He said the business would have UK stock availability of the full range of SCA products for conversion of both standard and bespoke sizes.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to develop new products that offer quality and cost savings benefits and is an exciting addition to our portfolio,” he added.
“Looking to the future of woodfree sheets we think that the availability of lower grammages may be an issue, as they are generally more expensive to produce. We have found that by using SCA’s bulkier and whiter paper we are able to substitute up to 130gsm wood free sheets for much lighter weights by using the bulk of SCA grades.
“This will provide a great opportunity long-term and they really do run well and look great. We have had lots of demand for these products already but it’s starting to snowball and the current Covid-19 situation is making an even stronger argument,” Middleton stated.
Sweden-headquartered SCA is also pushing the sustainability message around its products. The group is the largest private forestry owner in Europe, and owns 2.6m hectares of forest in northern Sweden. It sows some 100m slow-growing, indigenous species tree seedlings every year.
Last year it also acquired 19,600 hectares of forest in the Baltics.
The group said that its seedlings will grow for a century before they are harvested to become renewable and recyclable products “with the lowest possible carbon footprint”.
SCA said that this created a world-class “long-lasting and effective value chain.
“We use the whole tree and refine the forest into sustainable solutions and products to people all over the world”.
SCA also makes kraftliner for packaging applications.