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FPInnovations’ tissue research program helps Canada’s competitiveness in global stage


April 1, 2012
By Pulp & Paper Canada

FPInnovations now has the capability to test tissue softness – a very important feat as consumer preferences for improved quality and performance play a major role in the global success of tissue businesses.Dubbed the holy grail of the…

FPInnovations now has the capability to test tissue softness – a very important feat as consumer preferences for improved quality and performance play a major role in the global success of tissue businesses.
Dubbed the holy grail of the tissue industry, softness is one of the key performance attributes of tissue. The search to perfect softness while keeping in balance other important attributes such as strength has been a high priority for tissue product optimization and new product development.
After successfully converting its pilot paper machine to tissue production in 2007, FPInnovations built a research program around tissue and offered pilot tissue trials to many companies. The tissue offering is now further strengthened by a handfeel softness panel, since a true softness measurement must be done by real people. By teaming up with experts who worked in quality control in the tissue industry for more than 30 years, researchers at FPInnovations received training in handfeel softness evaluation.
Implemented as a measurement tool, the handfeel softness panel has already tested its strict methodology to evaluate softness of tissue made on FPInnovations’ pilot paper machine. This represents a great opportunity for FPInnovations to take the lead in improving and standardizing the handfeel panel method and to support its members and customers to develop more competitive products.
World tissue demand is forecast to grow by an average of 4.1% annually between 2010 and 2021. For Canadian tissue companies, the competitive U.S. market is an important outlet. Exports now account for roughly half of Canadian production, with the trend swinging toward ultra-quality products in household towels and toilet tissue as well. This has prompted Canadian suppliers to increasingly launch new premium category products.
Globally, nowhere is the tissue industry growing more rapidly than in Asia, particularly in China. There is a spate of capital investment in tissue making as all the leading Chinese suppliers have recently announced massive expansion programs.
According to RISI, China’s huge population of 1.3 billion people consumed some 4.8 million tonnes of tissue in 2010, making it the second largest tissue market in the world (after the U.S.) and accounting for slightly more than 16% of global consumption. Preliminary figures for 2011 show consumption of more than 5.2 million tonnes, up by almost 10% from the previous year.
With the printing and writing paper grade falling steadily in North America, FPInnovations’ tissue research program, strengthened by its new capabilities, can support Canadian pulp and paper companies, particularly market pulp producers, looking to take advantage of the growing global tissue demand.
For more information about tissue softness evaluation, contact Xuejun Zou, research manager, Paper, Packaging
& Consumer Products (514-630-4132, xuejun.zou@fpinnovations.ca).

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