Consolidation Continues in the US Paper & Paperboard Industry

Consolidation Continues in the US Paper & Paperboard Industry

Output declines have resulted in consolidation activity in the US paper and paperboard industry and the number of firms and establishments has fallen over time. As a comparison, in 2006, the number of paper mill firms totaled 193 with 348 establishments, while paperboard mill firms amounted to 87 with 205 establishments. As a result of a declining number of firms, concentration has increased in the paper and paperboard industry. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, the four largest firms in the industry accounted for 51% of US shipments in value terms and the largest eight firms represented 68% of shipments. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 145 paper mill firms operated in the US with 230 establishments while paperboard mill firms numbered 79 with 176 establishments.

The US paper and paperboard industry is dominated by large, vertically integrated firms that manufacture pulp, paper, and paperboard stock, and engage in converting operations to produce items such as boxes. Due to continued competitive pressures, such as a slow-growing market for their products, the industry continues to consolidate. For example, major industry participant WestRock was created in July 2015 through the merger of Rock-Tenn Company and MeadWestvaco Corporation. Since then, the WestRock has completed a number of acquisitions, including the purchase of:

  • Island Container Corp and Combined Container Industries, producers of corrugated boxes, sheets, and point-of-purchase displays (July 2017)
  • five facilities from US Corrugated (June 2017)
  • Multi Packaging Solutions, a provider of value-added packaging (June 2017)
  • Cenveo Packaging, a supplier of folded carton and display packaging, from Cenveo (January 2016)
  • SP Fiber Holdings, a manufacturer of recycled containerboard, kraft and bag paper, and newsprint (October 2015).

Vertical integration continues as well. For instance, in December 2016, International Paper Company acquired Weyerhaeuser Company’s pulp business for $2.2 billion.

Learn More

For more insights into the US healthcare insurance industry, see Paper & Paperboard: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of the Freedonia Group. This report forecasts US paper and paperboard production and demand in short tons to 2021. Total production is segmented by product in terms of:

  • unbleached kraft paperboard
  • recycled paperboard
  • solid bleached paperboard
  • semichemical paperboard
  • printing and writing paper
  • tissue paper
  • packaging and industrial paper
  • newsprint paper.

In addition, total shipments and total demand are forecasted to 2021 in US dollars at the manufacturers’ level.

Re-exports of paper and paperboard are excluded from demand and trade figures.

To illustrate historical trends, total production, total demand, the various production segments, and trade in short tons are provided in annual series from 2006 to 2016. Total shipments and total demand in US dollars are also provided in annual series from 2006 to 2016.

Related Focus Reports include Books: United States, Commercial Printing: United States, Corrugated & Paperboard: United States, and Newspaper Publishing: United States.

About the Author

Leon Mengri is a Senior Market Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. He conducts research and writes a variety of Focus Reports, which offer concise overviews of market size, product segmentation, business trends, and more.