In the past 30 years, Domtar has been best known for paper. Even our stock symbol (UFS) acknowledges our long reputation for uncoated freesheet. But paper, and our growing lineup of personal-care products, begin with a more basic material: pulp. This week is International Pulp week, and we want to tell you more about this versatile material.
Pulp is both a primary product that we make and sell, and the foundation for our paper and absorbent personal care products.
Domtar is agile, and as we adapt our business to market demands, our pulp division continues to play a central role in our company’s success. And with this year’s conversion of a paper machine at our Ashdown Mill to produce Lighthouse Fluff Pulp, we’ll become an even larger player in this essential market.
Even before adding new capacity at Ashdown, Domtar creates 1.5 million tons of market pulp to sell annually, in addition to about 300,000 tons that is used within our own paper system. The geographic diversity of our mills allows us to use a variety of wood sources and make three grades of pulp for the market: northern bleached softwood kraft pulp, southern bleached softwood kraft pulp and fluff pulp.
“We’re fairly unique in that we sell all three grades,” said Lewis Fix, vice president of pulp sales. “We have a good geographic spread and product mix. It’s an advantage because it allows us to have meaningful relationships with large, multinational companies.”
The conversion at Ashdown will enhance Domtar’s position, he said.
“We’re repurposing a world-class asset and first-rate manufacturing facility located in a great fiber basket,” he said. “The fluff market is growing. We’re doing what makes sense there, and we’ve got flexibility with the bale line at the end so that we can produce rolls or bales.”
Domtar pulp shows up in much more than paper and diapers. It is used in facial and toilet tissue, paper towel, specialty papers (think bacon board and sandwich wrap), some circuit boards and even building supplies, such as siding. Pulp’s unique attributes keep it in demand. It carries liquid in absorbent products; it helps hold tissues together; it keeps siding from crumbling when a builder drives a nail into it; and more.
The growing volume of pulp supports internal customers — Domtar’s own mills making paper and personal care products — as well as large and small external customers in North America, Asia and Europe. All of these customers require reliability and a solid supply chain to deliver high-quality goods.
“We’re in a good position in this market,” Fix said, “and we’re helped by the robust technical services we offer that add value. It’s going to be an exciting year in pulp.”
Happy International Pulp Week!