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Exploring Emerging Trends in FBB and SBS

Exploring Emerging Trends in FBB and SBS

In recent years, the cartonboard industry has witnessed remarkable growth. As the second leading grade after containerboard, cartonboard accounts for 17% of the global paper and board market, presenting numerous opportunities for producers. Among the various types of cartonboard grades, the spotlight is often on Bleached Cartonboard, specifically Folding Box Board (FBB) and Solid Bleached Sulphate (SBS).

The primary distinction between FBB and SBS lies in their composition. FBB is always multi-ply, combining chemical pulp with either mechanical pulp (MP) or thermomechanical pulp (TMP). On the other hand, SBS can be single- or multi-ply, but it is exclusively made from 100% chemical pulp.

The table below provides a more comprehensive understanding of the disparities between these grades.

Table 1: FBB vs SBS

Table of the differences of FBB vs SBS.


Exploring Current Cartonboard Trends and Identifying Opportunities

Changes in China's Cartonboard Market Momentum

For quite some time, China has held its position as the dominant market for coated cartonboard. Its vast paper and packaging industry has fostered the production of a wide range of grades, from lightweight boards used in packaging to high-quality boards utilized in printing and graphical applications.

Despite continued capacity growth in China, we are beginning to see a shift towards increased manufacturing in other Asian Pacific countries. In terms of trade, China's export volumes increased sharply in 2022 but still represent less than 20% of their 17 million tons of capacity. This surplus capacity in China appears to be pushing exports to the US by displacing tons in Europe and other regions.

Introducing FBB in a Predominately SBS Region 

In addition to the shifts in China's cartonboard market, the North American market is also on the verge of transformation. As highlighted in Table 1, North America stands out as one of the few markets, if not the only one, that heavily emphasizes the production of SBS. However, recent announcements have indicated plans to introduce FBB to the North American market. As depicted in the image below, currently, only 1% of North American cartonboard capacity is dedicated to FBB. Nevertheless, by 2025, this percentage is expected to rise to 3%.

North American Actual and Announced Cartonboard Capacity by Grade

Bar graph of North America's cartonboard capacity by grade

Source: FisherSolve

This shift in capacity trends prompts several important questions to consider:

  • Is there sustainable demand to support this increased capacity?
  • Where will the long-term consumption of FBB in North America be focused?
  • What opportunities will arise for foreign investors in North America's pulp and paper industry?

Sustainability Advantages

Investing in and producing FBB and SBS can also serve as a valuable tool for companies to meet their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives, particularly regarding reducing carbon emissions and water usage. FBB and SBS are wood fiber-based and designed to produce lower-density substrates. They reduce the overall weight of packaging—and the corresponding environmental impacts.

How Can You Seize These Opportunities?

With ResourceWise, you gain access to the necessary help and tools to fully comprehend the extent of this market and determine the strategic business decisions that will position you ahead of your competitors. Our team of consultants are experts in harnessing the power of our intuitive business intelligence platforms.

With their wealth of expertise and extensive experience in the pulp and paper industry, our team of consultants can provide your business with a thorough evaluation. They will conduct an analysis tailored specifically to your business, uncovering the opportunities associated with FBB and SBS, and highlighting the potential impacts your decisions can have on your company.

What sets ResourceWise's consulting apart is our innovative Leveraged Consulting approach, designed to maximize your return on investment.

Conventional consulting methods typically involve extensive research and data gathering before any analysis or insights can be generated. In contrast, our approach allows for substantial progress from day one of a project.

We harness the power of essential data and cutting-edge analytic models available in our business intelligence platform, FisherSolve. FisherSolve helps you stay ahead of the curve, delivering the most up-to-date insights backed by the industry's largest and most experienced research team.

Among the array of robust capabilities we offer to cater to your business requirements are:

Our team of consultants at ResourceWise is supported by a diverse and highly skilled global team of researchers, modelers, data scientists, papermaking experts, and business analysts. With our extensive industry knowledge and our exclusive business intelligence platform, we offer businesses unparalleled support that is unmatched by any other service provider.

Curious to discover the valuable insights and opportunities that ResourceWise's consulting services can provide?

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