Klabin’s new flexible paper machine in Brazil to produce 190,000 tonnes of packaging board this year
The paper machine can produce kraftliner, white top liner and boxboard
Klabin confirmed that the ramp-up of its new flexible paper machine No. 28 (PM28) in Brazil is taking place as expected and that the equipment should produce around 190,000 tonnes this year, between kraftliner, white top liner, and boxboard.
The PM started up on June 9 and is currently following the expected learning curve, producing kraftliner during the first weeks of operation until some technical parameters are reached.
In an exclusive interview with Fastmarkets, José Soares, Klabin’s commercial director for papers, detailed that the PM will keep moving its output toward more complex products, including boxboard and liquid packaging board (LPB).
When working at full capacity, the PM28 will be able to produce 460,000 tonnes per year of boxboard. White coated boxboard grades, such as triplex and solid board, will amount to 105,000 tonnes of this total after the company completes an additional investment in the project in 2024.
Soares commented that the new PM had a very smooth start-up, with fewer technical problems compared with previous projects, and boxboard output should begin before the end of July.
Boxboard for the export market
The executive stressed that the focus of PM28 is exports, since total Brazilian boxboard market domestic sales in 2022 accounted for 625,000 tonnes.
“It would not be possible to allocate the entire new production from this PM in the domestic market, it has to be in the international market,” Soares said, adding that the local market participants should not expect a large influx of extra tonnages reaching the market.
According to Soares, even if Klabin decided to direct more volume to Brazilian customers, this would not take place immediately, since boxboard buyers demand several steps of trials.
“First, we need to convince the end-users, then the printing companies and only then sell the boxboard. Even if we wanted to, it wouldn’t be simple. Of course, we will also sell in the domestic market, but it is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he argued.
“With PM28, Klabin will have a stronger presence in the European region; also the Southeast Asian market, which is very important, and Latin America, for example.”
Lightweight boxboard and expansion into pharmaceutical, beauty and food markets
The new PM will help Klabin reach more clients by allowing the company to offer lightweight boxboard with high technological properties; a similar move to what happened with kraftliner in the past when companies were looking for lighter corrugated board.
Currently, there are few boxboard alternatives in the market with basis weight below 200 g/m².
The new PM will offer paper with a mix of softwood and hardwood fibers that allow basis weight to drop significantly, and customers will produce more linear meters with the same tonnages they used to buy in the past.
The company also wants to reach new customers in the pharmaceutical and beauty markets in 2024 with their supply of white boxboard.
“We will also reach new segments of the food market, promotional and advertisement clients and the overall publishing market,” Soares pointed out. With white grades, the executive believes that Klabin’s portfolio will be “complete,” especially for the food service sector.
As an example, Soares mentioned the markets for food trays and paper cups: “We already produce cups that are brown on the outside and white on the inside, but next year we will have all-white cups, catering to both preferences.”
According to Soares, 50-60% of the production from PM28 will be focused on the milk and beer markets, the latter with carrier board. The remaining 40% of the production will be diversified, “still [mostly] within the food industry.”
Currently, around 60% of PM28 volumes are under contracts, a level that can reach 70% in the coming months.
Short-term outlook for boxboard “positive”
Soares commented that the short-term outlook for the boxboard market in Brazil is positive, since the second half of the year tends to do better historically.
“There is demand for toys, panettones and special campaigns that are regular in this period of the year.”
Regarding the aseptic packaging market, where PM28 should allocate a good part of its sales, Soares said that the demand had been growing, but now is stabilizing.
“Our end-users speak of growth stabilization and accommodation – something that was not happening before. It is a more expensive product than others and due to the current economic scenario [such as increased inflation and debt], we see a contraction in consumption.”
This article was taken from PPI Latin America, our newsletter for pulp, paper and packaging market news and prices for Latin America. Speak to our team to learn about our news and market analysis, prices, forecast and more.