The year 2015 ended on a positive note overall for the Italian pulp and paper industry. Output was up last year for the first time in many years, said Girolamo Marchi, the new president of the national association of pulp, paper and board manufacturers.
Last year, producers in Italy manufactured a total of 8.8 million t paper and board, equivalent to a 2.2% rise in production compared to 2014. The last time production was this high was in 2011. Nevertheless, said Marchi, this figure was still 1.3 million t lower than in the pre-crisis year 2007.
Drivers of production growth were packaging paper and board as well as tissue, which expanded by 4% and 2.7% respectively. At 4.3 million t, packaging paper and board account for nearly half of total production in Italy. Corrugated case material makes up the bulk of production in this segment. Demand here developed especially well, both from the domestic market as well as from abroad. Italy's paper mills raised production by 3.4% to 2.4 million t in 2015, while imports and exports rose by around 18% and 22%. At 3.8 million t, apparent consumption was 8.3% higher compared to the previous year.
The tissue paper market continues to be an important sector of the Italian paper industry. Italy is one of the largest producers in this segment in Europe. Among the CEPI members, the country has a share of 20% of total production, putting it in second place just behind Germany (20.5%). In 2015, Italian suppliers produced 1.4 million t of household and sanitary paper and apparent consumption increased by 1.2% to 680,000 t, following two years of consecutive decline. Assocarta noted the ongoing trend of tissue producers and converters moving close to their European target markets and investing there.
It came as no surprise that production of graphic papers declined again last year, according to Assocarta. Paper makers produced 0.6% less graphic paper than in the year before. The decline, which was attributed in part to weaker advertising business, was decelerating, however. In the three previous years, output had contracted by 1.1%, 5.7% and 4.6%.