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World overview of cellulose production

The Brazilian pulp and paper sector has a lot to grow. Understand the full picture of production today and future prospects.

Paper has been a material used all over the world for many years. Over time, the applications of paper have changed, but its importance remains undisputed. And even with the advancement of technology, there is no forecast that paper will stop being used anytime soon.

As a consequence of this reality, the pulp and paper industry in Brazil and in the world is very large. This is the reality in Brazil, as in recent decades the country has prepared to have a large production of cellulose, which is the raw material for paper.

Around here, cellulose production is largely used for exports. European countries and China are the most common destinations for this product. In addition to these, other major paper consumers in the world are the USA, Canada, India, and Russia.

Thus, the more these countries consume paper, the greater the export volumes of pulp. And it is this reality that should continue to drive pulp exports in the coming years.

Future perspectives for the pulp and paper industry

With investments and development of the pulp and paper industry, Brazil is on the way to becoming the largest pulp producer in the world. And currently, the country is already the largest exporter of this product.

In addition, China is the largest importer of pulp originating in Brazil. Therefore, the sector largely depends on the consumption that this country presents. This reality could be a threat in the future as economies are unstable. And if China were to reduce its volume of cellulose imports, the sector could face problems.

In this sense, it is necessary for the Brazilian pulp and paper sector to review this dependence on the Chinese market. Although there is room for growth in the sector in China, Brazil should invest in exports to other emerging countries such as India.

In addition to having better GDP growth prospects than China, India still has low pulp consumption. That means there is even more space to grow this country. A similar situation can be observed in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Indonesia.

The growth of pulp and paper production in the world

The international pulp and paper market has shown growth in recent years. Considering the period between 1967 and 2017, there was a great worldwide evolution in the production of this sector. The volume of pulp produced in the world in 1967 was 80 million tons, and in 2017 the volume reached 170 million tons.

This represents a growth of 115% in the pulp and paper industry. And this growth can also be observed in Brazil.

Pulp is historically produced on a larger scale in Northern Hemisphere countries. However, the participation of countries in the Southern Hemisphere has been growing over the years, starting to change this productive profile.

Still considering the 50-year period between 1967 and 2017, the growth of pulp production in the countries of the Southern Hemisphere was 1,166%, against 82% growth in the Northern Hemisphere.

Pulp production also decreased in the period

Although the numbers are positive when looking at the last years of the sector, some regions of the world showed declines.

From the mid-1990s, pulp production in North America has been declining, without achieving a recovery even over the years. Likewise, the European continent has not had considerable growth since the 1990s.

On the other hand, registered production in South America and Asia has been constantly growing since 1967.

Today, North America and Europe still represent 70% of world production, with South America and Asia accounting for 30% of the volume. However, this reality has been gradually changing and the space that Brazil has in this scenario is one of growth.

Pulp export: importance for the Brazilian market

Considering the favorable climate in Brazil, the planting of eucalyptus and the production of short-fiber pulp are facilitated. Consequently, Brazil is the world’s largest producer of this type of pulp.

Thus, the productivity of the Brazilian pulp and paper industry is impressive. In Brazil, 140 thousand hectares of wood are needed to produce 1.5 million tons of pulp. At the same time, 720 thousand hectares are used to produce the same amount of pulp in Scandinavia and 300 thousand in China.

Another important point is that the eucalyptus used by Brazilian industries takes approximately 7 years to grow. The pine, which is used in other countries around the world, takes 15 to 20 years to grow.

Consequently, the pulp production cost in Brazil is the lowest in the world. Then it facilitates the growth of the Brazilian pulp and paper industry.

Exports reached 69% of the volume produced in 2016

2016 data show that of all pulp production in Brazil in the year, 69% was exported.

As mentioned above, China is the country that most imports Brazilian cellulose. However, in a 2015 survey, it was possible to observe that the destination countries for pulp exports also include other countries. Some examples are The Netherlands, USA, and Italy.

Pulp and paper production around the world

The pulp and paper industry has representation around the world. Therefore, there is competitiveness and Brazil is in a better position when considering only pulp production.

Check out the list of pulp and paper producing countries, with data for 2016:

Cellulose Pulp

United States – 48.5 thousand tons;

Brazil – 18.8 thousand tons;

Canada – 17 thousand tons;

China – 16.8 thousand tons;

Sweden – 11.1 thousand tons;

Finland – 10.3 thousand tons;

Japan – 8.7 thousand tons;

Russia – 8 thousand tons;

Indonesia – 6.8 thousand tons;

Chile – 5.1 thousand tons.


China – 111.2 thousand tons;

United States – 72.4 thousand tons;

Japan – 26.2 thousand tons;

Germany – 22.6 thousand tons;

India – 15 thousand tons;

South Korea – 11.6 thousand tons;

Brazil – 10.3 thousand tons;

Finland – 10.3 thousand tons;

Indonesia – 10.2 thousand tons.

The Brazilian pulp and paper sector, especially pulp production, may grow significantly in the coming years. For this, it is necessary to prepare and invest in the sector.


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