Corporate strategy: IP Riverdale liner expected to make boxes that are almost like a consumer package, CEO says

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Corporate strategy: IP Riverdale liner expected to make boxes that are almost like a consumer package, CEO says

June 21, 2019 - 17:16
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OAKLAND, CA, June 21, 2019 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) -International Paper (IP) CEO Mark Sutton said this week that a planned machine conversion project at its Riverdale mill in Selma, AL, will allow North America's largest containerboard and corrugated producer to make unique high-quality boxes that will double as a shipping container and a highly colorful print product that can sell product at a retail store.

Sutton said such a "corrugated package almost becomes a consumer package," during his presentation at the Vertical Research Partners conference this week.

Based on plans, Sutton expects a box made out of IP's planned fully bleached white top linerboard to be made at Riverdale in Alabama will include high-print content, which is preferred especially by e-commerce firms. He said IP's e-commerce packaging business has continued to grow at a double-digit rate.

IP plans to convert an uncoated freesheet paper machine at Riverdale to 450,000 tons/yr of bleached white top linerboard and containerboard in the first quarter next year. Sutton did not speak to the startup date this week at the event.

IP does not make such high quality white top linerboard and buys it on the open market, Sutton said.

As a result, he said the Riverdale project is "completely different" than a standard containerboard machine project. The "fully" bleached white top liner will go on the outside of the box for "tremendous printability."

Sutton did not specify how much business IP would start out with in the bleached high-print white top segment or how quickly the business may grow. He said "very few" make the fully-bleached white top, that IP expects to ramp up slowly as orders come in, and this slow ramp-up will allow IP to rebalance its mill board system, including for allowing the company to make additional gypsum paperboard.

--bygrudder@fastmarkets.com