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A strengthening of the economy? Growing demand for paper based packaging? Skills retention stronger? Attractive markets to do business with? Sounds almost like we are on the up!

At this time of year, when the sun starts to shine and the there is still some light in the sky on the home from work journey, it is easy to feel positive. But, a recent survey from StepChange Consulting shows that this might be more than just ‘the spring has sprung’, and the grass ‘rizzing’.

In its ‘2018 European Pulp and Paper Outlook’ survey, it provides some interesting and very positive trends for the industry, which shows that 62.5% of participants expect the economy in their regions to strengthen within the next 12 months (whilst only 5.5% expect a decline). 


These positive expectations for 2018 represent a massive sea change from the negative and downward perceptions of business that have been dominant since 2014.

Growing trends

Of course, we know that ours is a dynamic market, but it is good to see that professionals around Europe agree. Some 94% of respondents expect a positive or peaking economic development for their segment. 


Other trends forecast are a continued move to more sustainability issue on the agenda – in fact this is the single most important driver – and talent acquisition and retention will become increasingly important. Industry 4.0 not yet taking off and remains low on priority for many companies. The report also finds that company priorities largely focus on price and margin management and cost reduction.

The report states, ‘The top three positive industry drivers have not changed dramatically from the previous year. One difference is that environmental and sustainability requirements has taken over the first place in 2018 with 61% of respondents (56% in 2017) expecting it to have a positive influence on the industry over the next five years. Changing customer behaviour and requirements follows closely in second place with 59% of respondents foreseeing its positive influence. The majority of the industry continues to expect a positive influence of capacity consolidation in the industry (54% in 2018, 52% in 2017) in the next five years’.

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