New options in catalog paper

The way paper supply and demand goes up and down, catalogers tend to get fixated on pricing. But sometimes it’s a good idea to review new options and grades in catalog paper. Here are just a few.

Verso Paper in June introduced Clarity, a new brand of supercalendered (SC) paper. According to the company, Clarity A and Clarity B will enable Verso to deliver the press runnability, print quality, optical characteristics and tactile attributes that customers expect in top SC products. The line will be produced on the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 paper machines at Verso’s mill in Sartell, MN.

Verso also unveiled a line of lightweight uncoated Web printing papers in late July: Versobook, Versotext and Versoblend. These papers are designed for use in both coldset and heatset printing applications and are available in a wide range of brightness levels.

Versobook, Versotext and Versoblend all focus on the lighter end of the basis weight range. The grades will be produced on the No. 1 paper machine at Verso’s mill in Bucksport, ME.

The Clarity product is the most appropriate for the catalog segment, says Andrew Jacuzzi, manager, marketing services and communications for Verso. And so far, the Clarity SC seems to be popular, says David Goldschmidt, vice president of marketing, catalog division for paper brokerage Strategic Paper Group.

NewPage has three new uncoated grades: Octane, High Octane and Ideal Offset. Octane is ideal for a wide spectrum of applications including direct mail, inserts, ad wrap, healthcare directories and manuals. Octane is an 80-bright, uncoated mechanical paper produced with a proprietary sizing that is engineered for both heat or coldset presses.

High Octane is an 84-bright, uncoated freesheet paper produced for heatset presses. Ideal Offset is touted as one of the most consistent running uncoated sheets for demanding and trouble-free printing. It has premium attributes, including a 92 brightness, blue-white shade, ink holdout, and optimal opacity.

Shifting to SCA+

“There continues to be a shift from #5 coated groundwood to SCA+ grades to save money,” says Dan Walsh, vice president of catalog/publication papers at distributor Bradner Smith & Co. The #5 grades have a coating applied to the paper; however, SC does not.

“SC grades are just sort of buffed to simulate a coating, like buffing your car without a wax,” Walsh explains. “They’re less expensive to make and can therefore be sold at a lower price.”

The SCA+ grades are the highest quality SC grades and directly compete with #5. “There are not nearly as many players in SCA+ as #5, he notes, “but the ranks are slowly growing.”

While not previously known for its quality on the regular SCA line, Verso is determined to win over new business with the Clarity SCA+ grade, according to Walsh. Verso is known overall for its quality, and the new SCA+ should be no different, he says.

It’s a smart move on Verso’s part because of the shift to SCA+ from #5, Walsh adds. In some cases Verso was losing business to SCA+ without being able to offer its own product. “Now Verso can answer that challenge, in addition to capturing new SCA+ customers.”

Pricing for all grades, especially coated #5, has been way down during the past eight months, Walsh says. “So the difference in pricing between #5 and SCA+ grades is not as wide as it usually is,” he explains.

But when pricing starts to increase on #5, he predicts an even faster migration to SCA+ grades. But then #5 production dwarfs that of SCA+, Walsh notes, “so a takeover of the #5 market will not happen anytime soon.”

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