ompetition is at a premium in the
U.S. retail tissue market. Amid
product saturation, declining
prices, slow population growth
and the battle between national brands and
private labels, demand for consumer and
away-from-home tissue is expected to rise
by less than 1% per year now through 2021,
according to a 2018 report by Tissue World. As
such, innovation is key in driving value growth.
Consumer preference for better-for-you and
higher-quality products has driven the trend of
“premiumization” across all grocery categories, and paper goods are no exception. Retailers and manufacturers are striving to remain
competitive by offering soft, premium, bulk-size products, yet at the most affordable price.
“For our larger private label customers,
offering value-priced alternatives to national
brands in premium-quality tiers really boosts
their margins,” says Steve Saraf, VP of sales
for U. S. Alliance Paper Inc., Edgewood, N. Y.
Private label remains strong in the paper
goods category compared to national brands.
For instance, while dollar sales of the paper
towels category as a whole grew just 0.2% in
the 52 weeks ending Sept. 9, 2018, that of pri-
vate label paper towels rose 4.1%, according
to Chicago-based market research firm IRI.
U.S. Alliance manufactures private label
household paper products for retail customers from coast to coast, offering custom paper
programs, products and bundles, as well as
prepackaged “control brands” for retailers
that may not have the volume for their own
private label program.
The company’s offerings include its Earth
First line of products that are 100% recycled
with 80% post-consumer material and no
chlorine bleaching; the Daisy line of kitchen
towels, bath tissue, napkins and facial tissues;
the Delicate Touch line with consumer-tested
packaging; and its latest Azure Ultra-Premium towels and bath tissue, featuring
ready-to-shelf packaging, designed to
provide retailers without the volume
for a private label program the opportunity to offer high-margin products
in the premium-quality tier.
Specialize in Supersize
the paper goods cat-
items made with
recycled materials to soft, “fluffier”-feeling
products and bulk packages. “The ultra cate-
gory as a whole continues to grow, as does the
preference for larger roll sizes for both bath
tissue and towel,” says Jeff Kuenn, director of
marketing and category management for Res-
olute Tissue, Miami, Fla. The company plans
to launch its newest line, Harmony, in 2019,
featuring both bath tissue and kitchen roll tow-
els including bulk sizes that offer enhanced
product performance for the midtier segment.
British consumer goods company Better
All Around also offers innovative, high-quality products that satisfy consumer demand
for supersize items. “There is a big move to
adding more sheets on a roll or creating mega
rolls,” says Vicky Mitchell, SVP of marketing.
“Although this offers value for money for the
consumer, it does come with its own challenges in terms of design.”
The company recently launched its Ora Napkins line in the U.S. through Wegmans Food
Markets. The line features a compact, cone-shaped stacking system with a modern design
that allows consumers to lift a round napkin
from the top of the stack. “Our design offers
consumers more sheets without the bulk,”
Mitchell says. Each Ora stack contains 50 napkins and will be available in seasonal colors.
New Technology Fuels Innovation
The introduction of new technology has
High-quality and bulk-size
largely helped to drive innovation in the
retail paper category. New Tissue Technol-
ogy (NTT), for instance, has contributed to
the improvement of paper quality in midtier
paper grades, Kuenn says. Featuring a flexi-
ble machine that can produce a flat sheet or
a structured sheet with a simple belt change,
NT T allows production in Dry Crepe Tech-
nology mode or premium structured grades.
“As a result, many customer brands are in
a position to offer a step-change prod-
uct in this segment,” Kuenn says.
U.S. Alliance uses new Through
Air-Dried (TAD) technology to
enhance the quality of its prod-
ucts. Targeting the premium end
of the product spectrum, TAD
dries virgin fiber with superheated
air to develop a soft, airy struc-
ture compared to drying the fiber
through pressing and flattening.
product innovation offers growth
opportunity in a highly competitive
market. By Natalie Taylor