24th annual global forest & paper industry conference

24th annual global forest and paper industry conference highlights

 

The 24th annual PwC Global Forest & Paper Industry Conference, with the theme of Changing directions: Opportunities and outlook for people, products and markets, brought together close to 500 CEOs, senior executives, customers, suppliers, financial analysts, government representatives and other stakeholders in Vancouver, Canada on May 11, 2011. The conference speakers and panellists tackled the tough realities of the industry’s lacklustre financial performance over the last several years, but more importantly explored some exciting new directions and opportunities.

Conference delegates learned about the general global economic outlook and anticipated demand for the world’s fibre resources, geopolitical risks in conducting business in many parts of the world, the rising power of China and flat to lower growth in Western markets such as North America and Europe, and the resulting realignment on forest products trade and demand.

The industry’s recent sub-par financial performance and brighter near-term expectations were discussed; there was a repeated call for further industry consolidation. M&A trends included an increased number of deals with smaller values; larger deals are seen on the horizon. Increased competition for the world’s fibre resources is expected from traditional and non-traditional sources. Cross-industry collaboration and partnerships are felt to be necessary for long term success, an idea supported by several speakers.

Delegates heard recent business success stories from Fortress Paper, a producer of specialised paper products, and the multi-platform transformation of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national daily newspaper.

The industry was encouraged to focus on new strategies, technologies and business models, and to aggressively recruit new talent to replace an estimated 50,000 workers who will leave or retire from the Canadian industry in the next decade. Governments were encouraged to make long term commitments to support research and innovation, not just one or two years at a time. Government policy should create monetary incentives and lasting conditions to encourage business investment and innovation, not simply support the existing industry models.

The impacts of growing demand for forest products from China and India were discussed, as well as how the lower cost structures of production facilities in South America are challenging traditional market relationships. Several speakers discussed how their investments in building relationships in these countries over the last decade are now paying dividends. The impact of the stronger Euro and Canadian dollar against the US dollar were explored, and how these have altered the costs and fortunes of many producers around the globe.

CEOs from leading forest products companies had an open and honest dialogue about the future―globally and locally. They discussed market successes, attracting and retaining a talented and educated workforce, fostering innovation, balancing social and business priorities for land use, opportunities and challenges with managed tree plantations, carbon sequestration, bio-fuels and engineered wood products.

The luncheon keynote speaker, the Consul General of Japan in Vancouver, Hideki Ito, made a presentation on the impacts of the recent Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Mr. Ito also discussed Japan’s current drive to fully assess the damage and provide immediate temporary housing to those most in need. He expressed his thanks to the individuals, companies and governments around the world for their continued support to the people of Japan.

The PwC Conference was part of the week-long Global Forest Products Leadership Summit 2011, a five day series of events and conferences focused on the global pulp, paper, wood products and fibre-based packaging industries. Organisations participating in Summit 2011 included The Pulp and Paper Products Council (PPPC), International WOOD Markets Group, the BC Bioenergy Network, and PwC.

Save the date for the 25th Annual PwC Global Forest & Paper Industry Conference taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on May 10, 2012.

Conference details
  • Agenda and conference materials – Browse the day’s details and View now

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