An Insider's View of the Paper Market
Magazines and catalogs can be printed on a wide range of papers, but the overwhelming majority are printed on coated mechanical and coated woodfree papers—grades that rank among those experiencing the strongest growth in demand in today's market.
In general, a larger portion of coated mechanical papers ends up in magazines and catalogs than is the case for coated woodfree grades, which are also used in other higher-end advertising materials and manuals. In North America, roughly 75 percent of magazines and catalogs are printed on coated mechanical papers—or what is known in the market as lightweight coated papers (LWC), even though, technically, some grades have heavier basis weights. Coated woodfree papers make up another 20 percent of the market. Uncoated mechanical papers, including supercalendered grades, account for the rest of consumption.
Europeans Go For The Supercalendered Uncoated
This contrasts with the situation in Europe, where supercalendered uncoated mechanical papers (referred to as SC papers) account for a larger share of magazine and catalog paper usage.
These grades are basically uncoated sheets of mechanical-pulp-based papers that have a higher-than-normal glossiness obtained by passing the sheet between a series of rolls called supercalenders. There are many sub-grades that rank according to quality and cost, and in recent years they have become an attractive alternative to LWC.
Paper Demand Up Over The Long Run
According to the Pulp & Paper Products Council (PPPC), the long-term trend in demand for coated papers has been mildly positive. Between 1990 and 2003, global sales of coated mechanical papers to North American customers increased just over 20 percent, or 1.4 percent per year on average.
Demand is expected to have closed 2004 with an increase of 6 percent, as the recovery continues in the magazine and catalog markets following the sharp downturn in ad spending during the last recession.