The importance of emerging markets continues to grow, and as their markets tend to grow faster than those of developed economies, the global average growth rates are positively influenced by this change in relative regional weights. Consequently, the past three years show a substantially larger volume growth than the years before. China continues to be the main driving force for global tissue market expansion. It has repeatedly accounted for more than 40% of the volume growth in tissue consumption worldwide in recent years, and in 2017 its share was 45%. China’s volume growth accelerated in 2017 to as much as 629,000 tonnes, a respectable achievement. North America and Latin America accounted for the second- and third-largest volume increases, followed by Asia Far East, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. In Japan, tissue consumption was stable in 2017.
It should be noted that 56-57% of the global tissue market expansion took place in Asia (including the Near and Middle East) in both 2016 and 2017.
North American growth extremely strong in 2016, some slowing in 2017
Tissue consumption grew in North America by an average rate of 3.2% in 2016, mainly thanks to the very strong US AfH business activity and increased net imports, which contributed about 1.4 percentage points to the growth rate. In 2017, domestic shipments continued at very much the same level as in 2016, but net imports grew much less and did not add more than about 0.2 percentage point to consumption, so market growth remained at slightly below 2.0% (1.95%).
Population growth is one driver for the North American demand, and in normal years it accounts for 35-40% of the organic market growth. One reason for the enhanced growth in North America is likely the fact that the main phase of product light-weighting and sheet size reductions seems to be over now, and shifts between quality categories, although continuing, have less influence on product and market structures than they did three to four years ago. The strong growth in the AfH sector is a major contributor as well; AfH toweling products are traditionally some of the heaviest tissue products.