Can the paper industry survive in New Zealand?

  • Breaking
  • 16/01/2013

Job losses and reduced production at a key paper mill are signs paper use is in decline as people switch to the internet to get information and communicate.

The Tasman Mill in Kawerau closed one of its two paper machines last week, because of “global market forces”, resulting in 110 job losses. The mill opened in 1955 and according to its website was the sole producer of all New Zealand’s newsprint and directory requirements, as well as some of Australia's and the Pacific Islands' newsprint.

Barry Tripp, managing director of paper merchant B&F Papers, has noticed a decline in the demand for paper and says when he began working in the industry 35 years ago there were 13 paper merchants in Auckland, but now there are just three.

And he says specific products are falling out of favour.

“Letterheads are declining because of internet and email,” Mr Tripp says. “Who writes now?”

He says envelopes are also going down for the same reasons.

Nationwide paper, stationery and book seller Paper Plus has also seen a marked decline in paper demand, especially the photocopy paper market, including coloured photocopy paper.

The company says the reasons for that are “the impact of technology followed by a more cost-conscious work environment” with people printing less or using double-sided printing.

There has also been a drop off in commercial-type diary products, but the company has seen an increase in demand for fashion and designer diaries.

Newspaper demand is also waning. The New Zealand Audit Bureau of Circulations data shows there has been a decline in newspaper circulation, with the New Zealand Herald peaking at 200,000 copies in 2006, but by September 2012 it had dropped to 166,384. All New Zealand's major dailies have seen circulation decrease since 2011.

The 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand entertainment and media outlook report forecasts the daily print circulation for newspapers across the country to fall from 620,000 in 2012 to 580,000 by 2016, and says the decline is likely to continue beyond then.

“The steady shift of readers from print to online has been evident over the past few years and is expected to continue, furthering the erosion of print circulation units,” the report says.

“Readers are using faster and more convenient smartphones and tablets to access the wide range of free and immediate news available on the internet.”

It also predicts a decline in print books and magazines.

“Mobile devices and the internet are changing the way the publishing world does business.”

But those in the paper selling business say while they’re down, they’re certainly not out.

Paper Plus group marketing manager Lyle Hastings says the world will always need paper.

“Whilst the category has taken a hit in recent years, the need for paper will never be eliminated – for example, the much predicted ‘paperless office’ just doesn’t exist.”

B&F Papers manager Mr Tripp agrees, saying it’s a case of the paper market changing with the times.

“[There are] new digital papers coming along, a lot of synthetic papers.”

He says there is even a new type of paper made out of stone, but the most popular paper at the moment is coated paper used for magazines and promotional material.

Overall Mr Tripp is not worried about his business.

“I’m very positive about it. Our sales are increasing in a declining market.”

So although the need for paper is declining, paper still has its place in the world, for now.

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source: newshub archive