Paper demand strong in international markets

General demand for paperboard is likely to rise faster in developing Far Eastern and Latin American countries than in the U.S., according to projections made by International Paper (Memphis, TN) at Direction 98.

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A variety of paperboard segments were analyzed at the meeting, held recently in Chicago. In the worldwide bleached packaging board sector, international demand was up 4% last year while the U.S. showed a 3% decline, "as converters adjusted inventories," according to IP. World demand in bleached packaging board is expected to rise steadily between now and the year 2000. As the accompanying illustration shows, these gains are forecast for folding carton, liquid packaging and foodservice board segments. Looking at kraft paper demand in general, IP's Carol Roberts admitted that "decreasing plastic costs have driven down paper's volume." On a more positive note, IP expects "F" and "N" microflutes to grow rapidly, in basis weights as low as 18 lb. As per tradition at IP's annual Direction meetings, noted economist and former IP employee Frank J. Poper delivered his economic forecast. He told attendees, "Nineteen ninety-six was a remarkable year. Worldwide, the economic fundamentals are too good to create a long-term bear market. There are few excesses and no major inflationary pressures at this time. But," he warned, "the stock market will be choppy in the next 18 months with a 10 percent or more correction possible at any time."

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