The world’s largest paper companies and top paper producing countries play a vital role in the growth of the global paper and pulp industry, and produces some of the most important materials that are used on the daily basis for various of commercial and domestic purposes. The market for paper and paper products is expected grow at a steady rate globally over the next few years, mainly driven by the rising demand in the downstream sectors such as printing, consumer packaging, pharmaceutical, and construction, etc. Despite the challenge that pulp and paper industry is faced with environmental pressures to reduce the volume and toxicity of its industrial wastewater, the world’s top 10 largest paper companies and leading paper producing countries are still projected to have strong growth in their paper productions and revenues over the next few years.
This industry fact sheet is to assist industry professionals, investors, and people in general that are interested in gaining insights into the global pulp and paper industry including:
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The global paper industry is thriving business with tremendous productions and consumptions around the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that the global production of paper and paperboard was estimated to be around 390 million tonnes in 2018 and it is expected to reach 490 million tonnes by 2020. According to the recent market report from Reports and Data, the global paper and pulp market size was valued at US$ 518.83 Billion in 2019 and is expected to reach US$ 679.72 Billion by the year 2027, representing a strong CAGR of 3.45% during the forecast period.
Packaging is the largest consuming sector in the global paper industry, with over 52% of the world paper production is used as packaging paper, while almost 33% is used as graphic paper for printing purpose. The growth of the consumer product packaging sector will be driven largely by demographic shifts and consumer trends such as the demand for convenience and sustainability, as well as the rising concerns over plastic packaging waste. As a result, the global paper industry is expected to be further boosted by the rising demand of the paper packaging segment in the near future.
Geographically, Asia-Pacific accounts for the largest market share in the global paper and pulp market. This is mainly attributed to the fact that China, Japan and South Korea are some of the world’s largest paper producing countries and top paper consumers with some of the highest demand in their paper packaging industry. Goldstein Research reports that Asia-Pacific region is expected to hold 34% revenue share of global paper and paper packaging market in 2024.
2018 Production (million tons)
The world’s largest paper producing country is China, producing about 110 million tonnes of paper per year, followed by the United States, and Japan. These top 3 largest paper producing countries account for over 50% of the world’s total paper production very year. Other world’s top 10 largest paper producing countries include, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, and Italy. While the leading paper importing and exporting countries are Germany and the United States.
With some 423.3 million metric tons of paper consumed globally in 2017, the world’s paper consumption is roughly equal to the amount of paper produced annually. China is the world’s largest paper and paperboard consumer in the world, using more than 113 million metric tons annually, according the data from Statista, while the U.S. consumed some 70 million metric tons of these products. However, the United States consumes much larger volumes of these products per person at 229 kilograms per capita while China used about 74 kilograms per capita. The United Kingdom is another one of the world’s leading consumers of paper and paperboard by volume, consuming over 10 million metric tons of paper and paperboard every year, followed by more than the 8.67 million metric tons consumed in France.
2018 Paper & paperboard production (million tonnes)
Nine Dragons Paper Holdings
Smurfit Kappa Group
Nippon Paper Industries
Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing
International Paper is currently leading the chart of the top 10 largest paper companies in the world. It is the one of the leading producers of paper, packaging, and pulp. It has over 56,000 employees operating in 150 countries. The company responsibly uses renewable resources to make recyclable products that millions of people depend on every day. Its main products include uncoated printing and writing papers, pulp, and fiber-based packaging products.
Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited is the largest paper company in China and second largest paper company in the world by production volume. It is mainly engaged in the manufacture and sales of packaging paper, recycled printing and writing paper and high value specialty paper products Chinese market. The company’s main subsidiaries include Nine Dragons Paper (BVI) Group Limited, Nine Dragons Worldwide Investment Limited and Nine Dragons (China) Investment Co., Ltd. Its total employee totalled over 18,500 people in 2019.
WestRock is another one of the world’s largest paper companies specialised in producing corrugated paper packaging products. The company is also well-known for its innovative papermaking, packaging design, and retail solutions. With operations around the world and expertise in every shopping category, WestRock focuses on working with brands to help them win across the board by providing an unbeatable portfolio of paper and packaging products.
Oji Holdings Corporation is the largest paper products manufacturer based in Japan. It is also one of the world’s largest companies in the forest, paper and packaging industry. The company’s main products include paper, pulp, and processed paper goods, including newsprint, carbonless, wrapping and packaging, and paperboard. The Company also produces sanitary paper goods such as disposable diapers. Oji Paper has forests in Japan and overseas, and operates forestry, timber sales, and real estate businesses.
DS Smith is a world’s leading paper packaging company headquartered in London, England. Through its paper business, it manufactures paper material used for corrugated paperboard and other packaging products. The company also manufactures paper grades such as plasterboard liner. Its paper recycling segment collects paper and cardboard for recycling from a range of sectors, including retailers, manufacturers, local authorities, and other recycling and waste management companies.
UPM is one of the world’s largest forest industry companies based in Helsinki, Finland. The company is specialized in manufacturing and selling magazine papers, newsprint, and fine and specialty papers. UPM-Kymmene also makes self-adhesive labels, siliconized papers, industrial wrappings, and packaging papers. The Group employs around 18,700 people and it has production plants in 12 countries.
Stora Enso is another leading manufacturer of pulp, paper and forest products, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland. Stora Enso is a world’s leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions, and paper for global markets. Stora Enso operates in more than 40 countries around the world. Stora Enso sells its products to publishers, printing houses, and merchants, as well as the packaging, joinery, and construction industries worldwide.
Smurfit Kappa is one of the leading packaging companies and largest paper companies in the world. The company manufactures paper-based packaging, with its locations supported by a network of paper, recycling, and forestry operations. The company is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, with over 45,000 employees across 34 countries. Its total sales were nearly 10 million euros in 2019.
Nippon Paper Industries is one of the world’s largest paper companies based in Japan. The company mainly engages in the manufacture and sale of paper products, including printing paper, paperboard, household paper, pulp, and papermaking materials. It also has construction and other business segments that offer lumber, construction materials, and civil engineering services, as well as beverages, logistics, and leisure businesses.
Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd is a Hong Kong-listed private paper manufacturing company. Its main products include packaging paper, such as linerboard and containerboard, and wood pulp. It has paper production plants in mainland China and Vietnam. The company employs about 4,000 people.
The rapid shift towards sustainable paper production and recyclable feature of paper and packaging products have become some of the major paper industry trends over the recent years. These trends are mainly driven by the rising consumer awareness about non-biodegradable materials and its effect on environment. Therefore, many world’s largest paper companies and leading paper products manufacturers have invested heavily in the sustainable production and the adoption of eco-friendly materials. These will also be some of the key factors which are boosting the growth of the global paper industry in the near future.
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