Premium Beauty News - How does the 2016 year look like so far for Metsä Board?
Christophe Baudry - The year is far from over, but I think the word "consolidation" is the one that fits best the Group’s situation. We have continued our investments and were able to take advantage, with our customers, of the achievements made in previous years while preparing for the future.
In April, we officially inaugurated our new folding boxboard machine at the Husum mill in Sweden. In total, we invested nearly EUR 170 million to upgrade the Husum site and forge on with our transformation as a global leader in paperboard produced from fresh fibres. The Husum site epitomizes our strategy perfectly: it integrates vertically the production of pulp and of paperboard. It perfectly reflects our desire to master the quality of the product, in particular its consistency, while delivering always more services and flexibility to our customers. The mill in Husum is located by the sea and has its own sea terminal, its production is mainly targeted at the Americas and the food markets globally, but it reflects the objectives of Metsä Board for all markets: environmental excellence, consistent quality delivered and service excellence.
Premium Beauty News - Environmental friendliness could not be more strategic to the Group?
Christophe Baudry - For the past thirty years, reducing the environmental impact of our products has been part of the company’s DNA. And all the steps we take point in that direction. It is a strategic choice that also is perfectly, and increasingly, in line with the expectations of a large number of our clients. This is especially true for the cosmetics industry whose main promise is that of personal well-being that consumers spontaneously link to the well-being of the planet, reflecting an intact and plenteous Nature that must be preserved.
Metsä Board is engaged in a policy aimed at lightening and reducing the environmental impact of its products. Today all our interlocutors also have this concern in mind. This is true for large groups that are often at the forefront of environmental policies, with ambitious goals and obligations regarding results, but it is also true for many independent actors, as a number of them also place environment at the heart of their brand image. It is true that with the development of e-commerce, lighter packagings have become a key component across the whole value chain. This junction point between Metsä Board and its customers is becoming stronger and stronger. And we intend to continue our efforts in that direction!
But our environmental commitment is not limited at designing lighter paperboards. It encompasses our entire business, from the management of forests to the advice given to our customers including the entire manufacturing process. In practice this includes improving our energy efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions (with a 30% target per tonne produced by 2020), reducing the amount of water used (-17% per tonne produced by 2020). Our mill in Kyro, Finland, has been using for many years now a biopower plant that helped halve the site’s CO2 emissions.
These efforts are bearing fruit since, in 2015, Metsä Board was recognized by CDP, as Nordic leader for the quality of its climate change related information disclosed to investors and the global marketplace, (Carbon Disclosure Project). Last year Metsä Board also had the honour of being included in the exclusive Water A List of the CDP’s Water Program for its actions on improving water security. Among the eight A-listers, Metsä Board was the only European company and the sole representative of the forest industry.
Premium Beauty News - How does this concern link in with the challenges of e-commerce?
Christophe Baudry - In e-commerce, product delivery is a key item, because of its cost but also of its key role in the customer’s satisfaction and shopping experience. The main operators are therefore looking for as light as possible boxes – for cost and environmental reasons – and also very resistant, to guarantee perfect product integrity. Our lightweight liners are therefore perfectly suited to these needs.
In parallel, especially in the luxury sector and for premium cosmetics, brands are seeking to achieve a "wow" effect when the product is handed to the customer and when she opens the box. Dream and enchantment are key in cosmetics. The moment when the customer opens the box should be a moment of pleasure, a genuine invitation to travel. But we must not overdo it, because during this returning to childhood, during this moment of pleasure and surprise, the consumer also needs to be relieved from her feelings of guilt in relation to packaging waste. Or otherwise, the final effect could well be: "Wow all that waste."
In such a context, Metsä Board’s environmental message has become more and more meaningful.
Premium Beauty News - Finally, what is your insight on the main market trends and prospects for innovation?
Christophe Baudry - Lighter, more resistant products are the main trends and key challenges of the market of higher-end paperboard. These themes are in line with all the current societal changes and macro trends, whether they relate to environmental concerns, the development of e-commerce or product premiumisation.
In the longer term, paperboard has major advantages to offer the packaging sector. Its scope of application should greatly expand. Possibilities are many and we are very far from having explored all of them. These are long-term projects that require significant investments and time. "But what wouldn’t we do for our customers!"