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Forecasting the Forest Industry

Insights from the Fastmarkets Forest Products Europe 2024 Conference

Irene Salo / March 25, 2024

The global economy has experienced a slower growth rate this year, with noticeable disparities across regions in Europe. While the labor force remains robust and unemployment rates low, the population in the area is not growing. Despite this, European consumers continue to spend money, prompting questions about the impact on the forest industry.

In this blog post, we explore the key factors shaping the industry's outlook based on insights from the Fastmarkets Forest Products Europe 2024 Conference.

Challenges of Growing Needs and Overproduction

Containerboard demand is on the rise, but overproduction remains a persistent concern. In 2023, global paper and board production witnessed a decline of 3.1% compared to 2022, totaling 409.7 million tonnes. From this, containerboard holds the largest market share at 188.2 million tonnes, followed by graphics and boxboard. Packaging papers account for 65% of global paper demand, with containerboard accounting for 45% of the overall consumption. Mainly driven by Asia, paper consumption also exhibits growth in Europe and North America. Consequently, the containerboard segment faces oversupply, primarily in Asia.

Top Trends in the Industry

Sustainability serves as a guiding principle for forest companies, and despite the prevailing economic situation, the forest industry has been relatively less affected, maintaining a decent level of profitability across various segments. While the tissue segment remains strong, pulp has experienced the most significant decline. Wood products, on the other hand, exhibit the largest drop in performance. Notably, sustainability, digitalization, industry 4.0, and transportation costs emerge as the most significant trends for 2024, with companies prioritizing sustainability. Interestingly, energy costs are declining, potentially due to the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Many companies have adopted clear sustainability strategies, although it is yet to be seen as a clear competitive advantage (source: 2024 Q1 Economic Outlook Study by Step Change Consulting).

Evolution in Paper and Board Material Development

Several EU directives shape packaging substrates, with an emphasis on reducing waste and enhancing recycling. The paper and board sectors are tasked with achieving the highest percentage targets by 2030. The increasing prevalence of online shopping has driven the demand for packaging materials. Consequently, the industry is actively pursuing flexible, recyclable, and reusable products, with the important objective of substituting single-use plastics.

Tissue Market Overview

China, North America, and Western Europe rank as the largest tissue consumers globally, with Latin America holding the fourth position. In terms of production, approximately 45.8 million tonnes of tissue were produced last year. Italy experienced the largest volume growth in the last ten years, while Germany, the largest tissue market, demonstrated minimal volume growth. In Western Europe, the COVID pandemic resulted in a nearly doubled growth in 2020. However, the market experienced a setback and decline of about 1.5% in 2023, primarily due to economic factors. Nevertheless, a return to normal growth is anticipated in 2024-2026. Notably, Turkish tissue capacity has shown strong growth, leading the nation to become a major net exporter of tissue and earning a spot among the top five worldwide.


The forest industry is navigating through various challenges and capitalizing on emerging trends to maintain profitability. As demand for packaging materials continues to grow, the industry is actively pursuing sustainable practices and substituting single-use plastics. Despite setbacks caused by economic factors, the tissue market is expected to recover and grow steadily in the coming years, with notable players such as Turkey establishing themselves as major exporters. By staying abreast of industry dynamics and prioritizing sustainability, forest companies can adapt to changing market conditions and ensure their long-term success.

We, within the Pulp, Paper & Fibre unit, are dedicated to helping the industry navigate current and future challenges with our over 50+ years of experience and a team of more than 400 experts.   

Source: Fastmarkets Forest Products Europe Conference 2024 presentations

Irene Salo
Global Marketing and Communications Lead, Pulp, Paper & Fibre and Energy & Utilities, Tietoevry Industry


Irene Salo

Global Marketing and Communications Lead, Pulp, Paper & Fibre and Energy & Utilities, Tietoevry Industry

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