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Speaker interview with Marko Summanen

60 seconds with the Vice President -Business Development Europe at Fisher International

You will deliver a presentation focusing on “Market overview and trends”. Please could you please give us a quick overview of what you will be sharing with our audience?

My presentation will focus on trends and insights related to the specialty papers segment, particularly around new investments, high-demand grades that are driving new opportunities, and how capacities are evolving.

What are the trends and developments that will redefine the specialty industry the next 5 years?

Over the next several years, plastic substitutions, decarbonization (carbon offsets, sequestration, etc.) and the development of sustainable, circular economic models will be at the forefront of the industry. These topics will have tremendous, cascading impacts on investment decisions. As is the case in many emerging markets, producers will have to navigate the challenge of being too early (which can cost money), and too late (which can also cost money).

What are some of the biggest challenges that the specialty papers industry is currently facing? What are some of the biggest opportunities?

One of the biggest hurdles facing the industry is the disconnect—and unintended consequences—that oftentimes arise between policymakers and the market. For example, the market is driving plastic substitutions at many levels but those changes need to be aligned with legislative efforts. Lawmakers may approach these issues with good intentions but if new regulation does not include considerations for multiple stakeholders, the result may negatively impact the market and desired outcomes.

The biggest opportunity right now is in product development and scalability. As demand for fiber-based packaging soars, those who are prepared to meet that demand with innovative, scalable solutions will carve out long-term niches in the market. Likewise, those who are late to the market will miss the large opportunities. While many consumer brands are global, there are no individual global specialty paper producers with a presence in all regions, which creates additional challenges—and opportunities.

Why do you think people should attend specialty in papers 2021?

The world has changed significantly since the pandemic started in 1Q2020. We have been living in very insular environments for over a year, which has limited ideation, collaboration, and the important relationship building that enables continued innovation. The revival of live industry conferences will help facilitate a return to more effective business development and performance.