What do paper and rock superstar Madonna have in common? The answer, says Potlatch: They both need to reinvent themselves.
For the coated paper market, nothing could be more advantageous for vendors than recognizing the demand for adaptability. But for publishers, understanding the science and economics of the market is equally invaluable. As a result, coated paper coverage is broken into three categories: What it is, how can it be used and what to expect this quarter.
Coated paper stock, manufactured with clay or coating applied to one or both sides, comes in a variety of styles, including dull, gloss, matte and embossed. While most coated papers produce sharper, brighter images because inks do not absorb as readily, choosing the right paper for an affordable price can be daunting. Photographs and color reproductions generally print better on coated paper, which is often used for art books or periodicals heavy with advertisements and illustrations. But what happens when the economy recesses and advertising pages are down?
"The coated paper industry will perhaps be harmed the most by the lower paper demand we are expecting in 2002," reports Resource Information Systems (RIS) (www.resourceinfo.com) with Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) (www.magazine.org). The organizations predicted that 2002 "could signal another year of significant ad page declines."
In the magazine and catalog publishing markets, cost invariably influences consumption patterns. Often, vendors are forced either to lower prices to unload stock or raise them if demand does not meet supply. Notes RIS, "True consumption of coated paper will be minimal." Keeping an eye on paper promotions may be the way to satisfy needs on a case-by-case basis.
What's in a name?
Potlatch (www.potlatch.com) released two such promotions, REV and VROOM. The former, Reward Enhancement Vehicle, is a frequent buyer program that offers incentives for using Vintage Gloss, Velvet and the new Vintage Silk coated papers. Acid-free and available in multiple weights, VROOM showcases Potlatch Vintage, a No. 1 grade paper that uses 10 percent post-consumer waste, important for cost-conscious buyers.
Temboard (www.temboard.com) also manufactures coated paper in gloss and matte exclusively for the magazine industry. The company's Kallima line is fully bleached and double-coated on the top and single-coated on the reverse side for sheet-fed and rotrogravure presses. According to Temboard, Kallima Web-Cover C1S Plus also suits Web presses.
Similarly, once Weyerhaeuser acquisitioned Willamette (www.wii.com), the companies further bolstered their coated paper offerings. Couger Opaque, Lynx Opaque and Husky Offset are used in the magazine and catalog markets. The companies report that Couger is designed for text and cover projects requiring smooth or vellum finishes.
Recently, CTI Paper USA (www.thepapermill.com) introduced its Splendorlux brand, featuring new colors, surfaces and textures. Thirty seven cast-coated colors, says CTI, are available with embossed patterns in high-gloss finish. Manufactured to showcase not only coating, but colors and patterns, coated sheets begin as white-cast-coated paper, rotogravure printed to showcase color. CTI reports, "Unique to Cartiere Fedrigoni (the manufacturer), the rotogravure printing is done inside the mill only a few yards from the cast-coating machine. Three hits of color are applied to each sheet to insure the finest quality and most uniform color."
Sappi Fine Paper's (www.sappi.com) Strobe, Lustro and Opus Gloss feature smoothness for uninterrupted printing. Sappi notes the new gloss varieties were designed to honor image fidelity, color accuracy and tonal continuity. "If you're taking a base stock and putting coating on it and just letting it dry, it's like painting a wall with a primer," describes McCarthy about matte versus gloss finishes. "It just fills in the surface of the sheet."
Similarly, Sappi offers a variety of coated paper by category: woodfree and mechanical, including embossed, label, SFOL, specialties, web and gravure. McCarthy notes that coated papers also range according to finish; matte, silk, dull, gloss and cast coated, which are commonly used for specialty stocks.
The world's second largest producer of magazine paper, Stora Enso (www.storaenso.com/na), boasts total production capacity of 4.5 million tonnes for light-weight coated (LWC), medium-weight coated (MWC), heavy-weight coated (HWC) and machine-finished coated (MFC) papers used for magazines, advertising material, catalogs and direct marketing products. According to the company, its Centura brand's Delta Gloss "is what makes images lift off the page. It's the difference between the gloss level of the printed and unprinted page."
Smart Papers (www.smartpapers.com) also balances dull, uncoated styles with its Kromekote Plus, an icy blue-white shade that holds higher print gloss designed for graphic-intensive printing. For instance, Kromekote C1S is cast-coated on one side and fully-coated on the reverse side, offering a mottle-free print surface on both sides of the paper, whereas Kromekote C2S is cast-coated on both sides. It's designed for applications including annual reports, art/photo prints, book covers and jackets.
Coated groundwood paper also shows up on Fraser Papers' (www.fraserpapers.com) radar. Publishers of magazines, catalogs and free-standing editorial inserts might use Fraser light and ultra-light coated groundwood papers to create vivid image quality, brightness, opacity and, says Fraser, "color-true reproduction." While some paper manufacturers produce sub-34 lb. basis weights, Fraser routinely produces ultra-light coated groundwood grades down to No. 26. Its recycled-content grades begin at No. 32 and extend to No. 45, also in rolls.
Bunzil Fine Paper (www.bunzelfinepaper.co.uk), an independent vendor, outlines several tips to caring for coated paper:
Store your paper in a cool dry place. All paper likes stable conditions and when stored at room temperature in normal humidity, it stays in perfect condition for a long time.
Don't expose paper to heat, such as next to a radiator or in direct sunlight. Paper's copying and printing properties are affected not only by excessive humidity, but also by excessive dryness.
Always store paper flat in its own packaging. Boxes and ream wrappings are designed specifically to protect the paper against moisture, dirt and damage during transportation and storage.
Packaging protects paper. The polyethylene seal on ream wrappers offers many benefits. Dirt or plastic particles cannot get on to the surface of the paper if it's inside the wrapping and static electricity is unable to build up.
Paper needs time to adjust to the surrounding temperature and humidity. Problems can be avoided if when pallets of paper are stored elsewhere, possibly in the cold, can be allowed to adjust to a new room temperature and humidity before use. The time it takes a full pallet of paper to adjust to a new environment depends on the difference in temperature between the store-room and the new surroundings.
The stock market
Once a buyer establishes what paper is needed, next comes market economics. WhatTheyThink.com and CAP Ventures (www.capv.com) released their monthly Print Buyer Pulse Index compiled from print customers. The goal of the index is to provide real-time analysis of end-user print demand.
CAP Ventures reports, "There was a slight increase in the percentage of companies that plan to purchase print (79.2 percent for January) compared with last year (72.6 percent in December). A higher percentage of companies in all company size categories and annual print spend categories indicated they plan to purchase print in the current month. Traditionally, December is a slower month for printing with many customers completing their holiday printing in the fall."
Each of the print customer size categories had a slightly more negative six-month outlook in January compared with December of last year. The research suggests that demand for print will continue to be sluggish during the first half of 2002, but not experience the declines that plagued 2001, says CAP Ventures.
RIS adds, "The industry is already bogged down by a sharp drop in advertising in 2001, and the new forecast of a mild economic recession in the fourth quarter (combined with a slow recovery in 2002) will make it all but impossible for advertising to come shooting back." In addition, the proposed 10 percent postal rate hike will most likely go into affect in Q4 2002, says the MPA.
"Catalogs will be similarly affected by both the weak consumer spending and by the higher postal rates," reports RIS. "We expect catalog circulation to drop slightly again in 2002, and we will continue to see trends towards lighter basis weight, cheaper papers, fewer page counts and smaller trim sizes."
True consumption of coated paper will be showing minimal, if any, increase in 2002 because of these factors. The only reason reports show any increase at all in consumption is due to the belief that buyers will rebuild inventory in 2002 after a dramatic period of reduction in 2001. RIS estimates, "We are projecting a recovery of about 100,000 tons in 2002. This will allow purchases of coated paper to rise about two percent for coated groundwood and five percent for coated freesheet in 2002, but these gains are minimal compared to the respective drops of five percent and 11 percent in 2001."
"Our more cyclical businesses of containerboard and coated paper continue to be affected by the slowing economy, resulting in price declines from the prior quarter and prior year levels," admits Jerry Tatar, MeadWestvaco's (www.meadwestvaco.com) chairman. "We are faced with a challenging economic environment. To reduce the impact, we are intensifying our efforts to improve productivity and customer satisfaction, and we are taking prudent measures in capital spending, working capital management, purchasing and cost control."
-Natalie Hope McDonald