Industry consolidation opens opportunity
Sappi NA launches Packaging Group, debuts label product
Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Sappi NA is a subsidiary of Sappi Ltd., a global pulp and paper group based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Sappi has been doing business in North America for two decades, but has not had a packaging-focused organization until now, according to Laura Thompson, PhD, director of technical marketing and sustainable development for Sappi NA.
“LusterPrint, our grease-resistant paper, has been used in packaging since the 1990s,” Thompson told FoodProductionDaily. FDA-approved for contact with dry, aqueous and fatty foods, LusterPrint can be used as a face sheet, in paper and paperboard packaging, and in multi-layer flexible packaging.
In North America, LusterPrint’s primary application has been in multi-wall pet food bags. “We’re a pretty dominant player in that market segment,” Thompson said. “But before, the LusterPrint business was sort of a stepchild to our graphics business.”
“Now, we have our own sales organization, our own P&L responsibility, and our own R&D capabilities.”
By popular demand
It’s no coincidence that Sappi NA is launching its Packaging Group and its LusterCote label product simultaneously, Thompson indicated.
“There was sort of a perfect storm of circumstances,” Thompson said. “There has been a lot of consolidation recently in the North American packaging market, and it’s hard on customers when companies and mills change hands.”
“Some of our converter customers came to us and asked, ‘Why aren’t you making more (packaging) products here in North America? We know your Somerset mill (in Skowhegan, Maine) has the capacity and produces good quality.’” Thompson recalled.
So Sappi’s R&D team, led by Thompson, developed LusterCote, a coated-one-side (C1S) paper designed for package labels and related end-use applications. Thompson said LusterCote offers excellent runnability, stiffness, and print performance.
Produced at the Somerset mill, LusterCote is made with nearly 80% renewable energy. It is available with certification from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).
Having been qualified by label converters in the US and Canada, LusterCote will be sold directly to label printers and converters. The product is available in 55lb and 60lb basis weights.
Sappi NA’s Packaging Group is led by Mark Odgers, commercial director of Sappi’s Import and Packaging Business, with assistance from Thompson. They are supported by a dedicated sales team, consisting of Wayne Nablo, sales manager, Sappi Europe Specialty Products; Scott Marquis, sales manager, LusterPrint; and Tom Glas, sales manager, LusterCote.
In announcing the Packaging Group’s launch, Jennifer Miller, executive VP of the coated business and chief sustainability officer of Sappi North America, said, “Our long-standing experience in packaging gives us confidence that we can meet the growing need for superior labeling papers.”
“The introduction of LusterCote is a natural extension of Sappi’s packaging line and proof of our commitment to product innovation in response to growing customer demand,” she added. “In addition to our North American grades, the wide range of specialty packaging grades now available from our Alfeld mill in Germany position Sappi to meet the evolving expectations of the North American packaging market.”