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Keypoint Intelligence announces new study

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Keypoint Intelligence
Keypoint Intelligence announces new study (Image: Xerox)

Keypoint Intelligence recently announced the launch of a new study entitled CMYK plus – commercial printing demand, needs and opportunity assessment. This research will define the market demand for services that go beyond CMYK process colour including white ink, neon colours, metallic inks, spot colour capability and colours for security.

Keypoint Intelligence has been recognized as the digital imaging industry’s most trusted resource for unbiased information, analysis, and awards due to decades of analyst experience. Customers have harnessed this knowledge for strategic decision-making, daily sales enablement, and operational excellence—improving business goals and increasing bottom lines. Keypoint Intelligence continues to evolve as the industry changes by expanding offerings and updating methods while intimately understanding and serving manufacturers’, channels’, and their customers’ transformation in the digital printing and imaging sector.

“Print service providers (PSPs) need to differentiate more than ever,” commented Riley McNulty, group director, Keypoint Intelligence. “Vendors have increased their product offerings to enable PSPs with capabilities that go beyond CMYK. This study will answer key questions around the demand of CMYK plus capabilities and how much value it provides for both PSPs and end customers.”

This new multi-client study will explore the demand and need for going beyond CMYK through extensive research with print service providers in the US, UK, France, Germany, Benelux and Nordics. Study objectives will include measuring the importance of providing CMYK plus capabilities to business customers who purchase printing services; identifying essential capabilities by application and type of effect; explaining the primary challenges related to selling CMYK plus services to customers; determining the current incidence of providing these services; examining PSP purchase intentions and demand drivers; and identifying core areas of objection among non-adoptions.

Participation methodology will include a web-based survey to 115 respondents in the US and a computer-aided telephone survey to a total of 115 respondents from the UK, France, Germany, Benelux and Nordics. Desk research will leverage Keypoint Intelligence’s prior quantitative and qualitative research as well as discussions with industry stakeholders. Companies that subscribe by October 26, 2020 are eligible to provide feedback to help develop the survey questions.

 

IPPStar offers translation rights & research at FBF

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IPP Star has taken advantage of registering at the FBF Special Edition for several reasons. Above all, we have covered the fair for the past twenty-five years in our monthly Indian Printer and Publisher trying to report on the Indian publishing and printing and services industry’s progress. Most often, we have done this in person, and twice we took stands with and on behalf of Indian printers to help them export book printing under a loose imprint called the ‘Indian Print Exporter Forum.’ One year, we also successfully helped the German Book Office organizer a speed dating event for Indian printers to meet with global publishers.

This time IPP Star and I are also taking part in the rights platform as a rights trader for a wonderful series of ten humorous and hardboiled crime books that take place in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States, written by Tony Dunbar. This genre, noire, I have always admired thinking that the reality of our cities and political life can only be accurately described in fiction. And one that I think is needed to describe the Indian reality. I hope to help sell the translation rights to nine out of the ten Dunbar books to the Scandinavians who excel in this genre and also to publishers of Malayalam, Bengali, and Hindi fiction and perhaps other languages. The theatrical or video rights to Dunbar’s works are also available.

IPPStar’s book publishing & production in Indiia & Bangladesh research

My last mission is to project and perhaps find further support for IPPStar’s on the ground research project on the Book publishing and printing industry in Indian and Bangladesh that we completed in 2019. This is a comprehensive project with a large sample of face-to-face interviews, emphasizing education, textbooks, and trade publishing in local languages. We believe that this work projects a little-understood scale by the industry because it is supported and validated by our knowledge of the entire production of the book printers in these two countries.

Remarkably when the daily papers are full of Bangladesh catching up and even overtaking India on several economic and social indicators, this comes as no surprise to us since our Book Publishing and Production research of the two countries indicated just that. One of our findings, that we also tried to share at the Jaipur BookMark this year, was precisely that – Bangladesh produces and consumes 1.5 times the school (K to 12) textbooks than India.

We are waiting for the Indian industry and its fragmented book publishing and printing sectors to wake up to the need for real and inclusive research of all types of books and in all languages. Right now the industry is mostly dazzled by its own breast-beating and some fancy charts and diagrams based on limited samples that have ignored a substantial part of the Indian publishing pyramid. For further information please contact Purva Dwivedi, data analyst and director at IPP Star.

Frankfurt Book Fair Special Edition opens

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The opening event of the Frankfurt Book Fair Special Edition 2020 Screenshot IPP
The opening event of the Frankfurt Book Fair Special Edition 2020 Screenshot IPP

The Frankfurt Book Fair opened yesterday (13 October 2020), and as can be expected, the organizers have made a generous and transparent virtual or hybrid event out of it – but one feels the loss already. However, it will not be a loss for many of us, but eventually, a massive potential gain. This is because of the organizers’ open invitation to publishers and professionals to participate digitally and free of cost. Attributed by the opening event speakers to the quick and comprehensive political response of the German government, and perhaps more particularly to its minister of culture, it speaks well of a government that sees the value of ideas. A government conscious that books drive the knowledge and entertainment industries. And that books, culture, and the future itself are not mere commodities.

The opening event was both uplifting and a bit sad. Still, the underlying theme was the event’s humanity and that it stands for equity, justice, communication, science, and the written word. The need to continue the event in the face of the pandemic and for the way we have all had to think when confronted by a rampant virus that we barely understand, the need for “ambiguity tolerance.”

For many of us, even those who have paid to take part in the past FBFs and other global book fairs, the opportunities are perhaps greater at the FBF Special Edition this time than ever before. This is because we could never afford to take part physically with the resources needed to make much impact or to get the job done, and somehow the digital event is more democratic.

As Jurgen Boos remarked in his speech at the opening of the more than 4,000 digital book fair registrants, over 2,000 were interested in the rights platform. He seemed to imply (if I have interpreted his expression correctly) that this is a revelation – that this is really what Frankfurt has and what everyone wants – and that Frankfurt could learn from making this business process more accessible than in earlier years.

I speak here from a bit of experience as an exhibitor at FBF and the London Book Fair trying to interest global publishers in a book on Indian calligraphy unsuccessfully, by the late poet and calligrapher Raghu Joshi. I registered late at this year’s Special Event. The digital process of becoming a translation rights trader (of ten crime novels by Tony Dunbar) and possibly presenting IPPStar’s recent research on the book publishing industry was straightforward. And one that retains the integrity of the professional process.

IPP Star to offer translation rights & research at FBF rights platform

IPP Star has taken advantage of registering at the FBF Special Edition for several reasons. Above all, we have covered the fair for the past twenty-five years in our monthly Indian Printer and Publisher trying to report on the Indian publishing and printing and services industry’s progress. Most often, we have done this in person, and twice we took stands with and on behalf of Indian printers to help them export book printing under a loose imprint called the ‘Indian Print Exporter Forum.’ We also helped the German Book Office organizer a speed dating event for Indian printers to meet with global publishers.

This time IPP Star and I are also taking part in the rights platform as a rights trader for a wonderful series of ten humorous and hardboiled crime books that take place in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States, written by Tony Dunbar. This genre, noire, I have always admired thinking that the reality of our cities and political life can only be accurately described in fiction. And one that I think is needed to describe the Indian reality. I hope to help sell the translation rights to Dunbar’s books to the Scandinavians who excel in this genre and also to publishers of Malayalam, Bengali, and Hindi fiction and perhaps other languages. The theatrical or video rights to Dunbar’s works are also available.

My last mission is to project and perhaps find further support for IPPStar’s on the ground research project on the Book publishing and printing industry in Indian and Bangladesh that we completed in 2019. This is a comprehensive project with a large sample of face-to-face interviews, emphasizing education, textbooks, and trade publishing in local languages. We believe that this work projects a little-understood scale by the industry because it is supported and validated by our knowledge of the entire production of the book printers in these two countries.

Berlin Packaging acquires Vinkova

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Berlin Packaging
Berlin Packaging is a supplier of glass, plastic, and metal containers and closures, Photo - Berlin Packaging

Berlin Packaging, a supplier of glass, plastic, and metal containers and closures, acquired on 6th October Vinkova BV important supplier of food products and drink glass packaging solutions, based in Bussum, the Netherlands. With more than 50 years of experience, Vinkova offers a huge range of tailored solutions and products to a large customer base on the Dutch market, boasting solid industry know-how and strong relations with some of Europe’s most important glass producers.

For Berlin Packaging, the strategic joining of Vinkova is the completion of the range offered on the Dutch market, supplementing the innovative plastic and metal solutions and innovative closures already marketed on the territory since 2019.

Berlin Packaging is a global player supplying packaging solutions and services to customers of all types worldwide in all industrial sectors. The company is based in North America, where it has been operating since 1898 and boasts a global footprint that is expanding rapidly, with more than 130 offices and warehouses worldwide.

Vinkova is the eighth acquisition to be made in Europe since 2016. Both companies’ customers and suppliers will benefit significantly from this acquisition and Europe’s most important packaging distributor’s combined operations.

From now on, Vinkova’s customers can enjoy the exclusive design and innovation services guaranteed by Bruni Glass Innovation Center in Italy and by the One-Eleven Studio in the United States of America.

“We are extremely enthusiastic to become a part of the Berlin Packaging family and are certain that this new partnership will benefit our customers, suppliers and employees enormously,” André Rombout, general manager of Vinkova, commented. “We are a solid company and will become even more so”.

“This is great news for our company, and for all our business partners too, adds Ruben van der Zouw, Vinkova’s commercial director. They will all benefit from the strong capabilities the Berlin Packaging Group has to offer. The Vinkova team is ready to start this new chapter in our history.”

“The acquisition of a solid glass packaging supplier in the food & beverage industry allows us to further extend the presence of Berlin Packaging on the European glass packaging market, completing the range of glass-plastic-closure products”, Paolo Recrosio underlined, chief executive officer of Berlin Packaging Europe. “It also offers us huge business opportunities, thereby confirming the validity of our strategy and the consistency of our project”.

“In addition to consolidating our positioning in Northern Europe, this acquisition allows us to support customers of all sizes and from all market segments, strengthening our commercial relations and the range of extremely high-quality services”, declared Bill Hayes, chief executive officer and president of Berlin Packaging.

Entirely in line with the Berlin Packaging acquisitions strategy, the workforce and structure of Vinkova will not change in any way — all employees will remain with the company, as confirmation of the growth and development objectives in Europe.

Transition towards aluminum shake up the capsules industry

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AMI Consulting has published a report mapping the global single-serve capsules industry. The report aims to support the development of robust participation strategies by equipping industry players and investors with a comprehensive understanding of the scale of potential for future development, growth dynamics per system, market drivers, and competitive pressures.

All compatible capsules (both plastic and aluminum variants) accounted for over a third of the single-serve capsules market worldwide in 2020, a staggering increase of over 9 billion units compared with 2018. The report highlights a clear trend towards the rationalization of systems, with a clear focus on Nespresso and Dolce Gusto in Europe and K-cup in the US. Those three systems account for 81% of the global market.

Smaller systems may still offer reasonable returns but have limited growth potential beyond home markets. To this end, virtually all proprietary systems fillers have now diversified their brand presence to accommodate Nespresso and Dolce Gusto compatible variants, either in-house or via contract-packing agreements, it said.

Nespresso system is the most significant global capsule platform. The report said in 2020, the production of original Nespresso (including VertuoLine and Starbucks Nespresso) was almost matched with the magnitude of Nespresso compatibles. The compatible Nespresso system was the main contributor to growth, most via aluminum packaged variants. The original Nespresso platform is struggling to sustain its previous dynamics. The deal with Starbucks, whereby Nestlé now fills and markets Starbucks branded Nespresso capsules, opened the door for global mainstream retail rollout platform to mitigate the risks.

The compatibles’ need for differentiation resulted in capsule material and barrier specification adjustments, impacting positioning. The (Nespresso) market is now in the process of transition from plastic to aluminum. As a result, the industry has been gearing up to accommodate the change, both on the filling side – with investment in aluminum filling lines and retrofits; and on the empty capsule supply side, whereby compatibles suppliers have to diversify their portfolio to include aluminum. There are very high entry barriers with aluminum, so the competitive context has been intense, and the ‘aluminum game’ will determine new winners and losers.

Nespresso has put all the efforts in establishing the collection and recycling infrastructure for its used capsules. Following Nespresso’s open invitation in March 2019 to join forces in its recycling scheme. Further milestone announced by Nespresso is an increase in material circularity with using 80% recycled aluminum content.

Meanwhile, innovation in plastic capsules focuses on recycling-ready PP solutions, including polyolefin-based lidding films. Provided that other materials in the multilayer structure do not exceed 5%, used capsules can, in theory, be recyclable in the PP stream.

In parallel, bio-resins have developed a meaningful presence in the value chain. Albeit their penetration is still small considering global volumes, the current market context is attractive and facilitating further developments.

Covid-19 human challenge trials – can they help?

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The Covid-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus still poses an extraordinary threat to public health worldwide. According to the WHO, if left unchecked, it could ultimately claim millions of lives worldwide. While other measures such as social distancing can help reduce the spread of the Covid-19, these measures come at substantial social and economic costs disproportionately borne by underprivileged groups. The primary concerns so far for this pandemic include — lack of safe, effective vaccines and treatments, insufficient scientific knowledge regarding pathogenesis, immunity, and transmission rate.

As researchers worldwide race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, many people have volunteered to take part in a controversial testing method called human challenge trials. These trials involve the deliberate infection of healthy volunteers. These trials are not new and are particularly valuable for testing vaccines, such as early the research with smallpox and malaria that transformed global public health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that these human challenge trials offer preliminary estimates of vaccine’s efficacy and safety, “Such trials can be used to compare the efficacy of multiple vaccine candidates and thus [to] select the most promising vaccines for larger studies. Well-designed challenge studies might thus not only accelerate Covid-19 vaccine development but also more likely ensure that the vaccines ultimately deployed are more effective.”

The National Institutes of Health researchers also reported that the human challenge trials have distinct advantages over field studies for discerning correlates of safety, given the precise timing of infection and the ability to measure immune responses at predetermined time points.

Besides, the results obtained from these trials are used to study processes of infection and immunity from their inception — validating tests for Covid-19 immunity, immune protection, and risks of transmission posed by infected individuals.

Ethical concerns of human infection challenge

However, research involving the deliberate infection of healthy volunteers is getting mixed opinions from the industry and experts. While addressing the Indian Council of Medical Research’s international symposium (held in July) on ‘Novel Ideas in Science and Ethics of Vaccines Against Covid-19 Pandemic,’ Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called these challenge trials ‘not ethical or not justified’ at the moment. According to him, the full health impact of Covid-19 infection is not yet fully understood. There are no highly effective therapies available to cure individuals infected in a challenge study.

Whereas WHO states, “The challenge trials are nonetheless ethically sensitive and must be carefully designed and conducted in order to minimize risk to volunteers and preserve public trust in research.”

WHO explained that the well designed human challenge trials provide one of the most efficient and scientifically powerful tools for testing vaccines, primarily because animal models are not adequately generalizable to humans. For the Covid-19 challenge trials to proceed, the WHO has set eight essential criteria that need to be satisfied.

Sayantan Banerjee, an advisory board member of 1Day Sooner, said, “Once researchers better understand the marks of immunity, they can look for these marks in trials for other vaccines. Challenge trials can also allow researchers to understand the early stages of coronavirus infection and how it spreads through our body.”

He also reported that human challenge trials’ usefulness and necessity are not guaranteed, but these trials could be a valuable tool in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

A paper published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases also proposed replacing Phase 3 trials with human challenge trials. “Controlled human challenge trials of Covid-19 vaccine candidates could accelerate the testing and potential rollout of efficacious vaccines. By replacing conventional Phase 3 testing of vaccine candidates, such trials may subtract many months from the licensure process, making efficacious vaccines available more quickly.”

Experts in favor of human challenge trials believe that the challenge trials my ultimately prove to be useful. It would be a mistake to delay the preparations further, they say, and could begin right now!

Phase-I clinical trials of the two candidate vaccines indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and Cadila Healthcare have so far revealed ‘excellent safety.’ Their immunogenicity testing is now in progress, as the minister of State for Health, Ashwini Choubey, informed the Rajya Sabha on 15 September.

Republished from the healthtekpack.com story of 23 September 2020 . Subscribe to the fortnightly Healthtekpak eZine from the IppStar group.

Manjushree Technopack acquires Pearl Polymers

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Bangaluru based Manjushree Technopack (MTL), India’s largest rigid plastics packaging company backed by Advent International, announced entering into a Business Transfer Agreement with Pearl Polymers to acquire commercial operations and manufacturing facilities of their B2B vertical. This transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

According to the press release, Manjushree was advised by Khaitan on this deal while Pearl Polymers was advised by JSA. Ernst & Young Global (EY) was the exclusive financial advisor to Pearl Polymers.

With over 40 years of packaging expertise in India, Manjushree Technopack fulfills the packaging requirements of the FMCG, food and beverage, home care, personal care, agrochemicals, pharmaceutical, liquor industries, and works with some of the biggest brands in these segments. These include Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Cadbury, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Heinz, Unilever, Tata Consumer Products, Marico, USL, Diageo, and many more. Manjushree has a manufacturing capacity of 1,75,000 MT per annum and a turnover of over Rs 1100 crore.

According to the press statement, Pearl Polymers’ B2B business’s proposed acquisition will help MTL consolidate their leadership position in the container segments while reinforcing its technical strength.

Sanjay Kapote, chief executive officer of Manjushree Technopack,

Sanjay Kapote, chief executive officer of Manjushree Technopack, said, “The acquisition announced is in line with our strategy to grow and diversify our business. Acquiring the B2B business from Pearl Polymers will allow us to consolidate our leadership position in the rigid packaging sector. We expect a seamless integration of the acquired business with the rest of the MTL group given the success we have achieved in our acquisitions to date. The proposed acquisition is in line with Manjushree’s aggressive inorganic growth plans. Manjushree aspires to be the employer and partner of choice, we will continue delivering deep value for our customers, post consummation of the transaction.”

“The combination of our technological strength, product range and geographical spread with Pearl Polymers’ robust container business will help us deliver an extended containers portfolio and areas of expertise to our customers in the future,” he added.

Chand Seth, chief managing director of Pearl Polymers, said – “Pearl polymers is the pioneer and was instrumental in creating the market for PET packaging in India. With its customer spread across India and in every segment of the market, we believe that this acquisition will bring great value. Our clients will continue to receive the same high-quality services that they have come to expect for the last 36 years. This deal will allow us to focus and grow the well-known PearlPET brand to new levels. We expect to launch many new product lines in the future.”

With the consummation of the proposed transaction, Manjushree will have access to four of Pearl Polymers’ production units and serve Pearls’ existing customer base, including marquee clientele in the FMCG, liquor, and pharma segments.

The pandemic consolidation

Pearl Polymers is a public company with shares listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Over the last couple of years its share price has hovered around Rs 15. It went up to Rs 21 last month (August 2020) and is currently above Rs 18.

Its profitability has been under pressure for the past year with a turnover in most of these years around Rs 178 crore level and profits at either zero in FY 16 and FY 17 and losses of 1, 4 and 11 crores in the subsequent FY18, FY19 and FY20 respectively. The results in FY 2019-20 has seen a marked drop in turnover to Rs. 139 crore from the previous year’s Rs. 178 crore. While the company has stagnated for some years it is possible that the downturn in the economy since the pandemic and lockdown has accelerated its acquisition by a bigger player.

Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES)1 – July 2020

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Business Inflation
Chart 1: One year ahead business inflation expectations (%)

A. Inflation expectations
One year ahead business inflation expectations in July 2020, as estimated from the mean of individual probability distribution of unit cost increase, have declined sharply by 42 basis points to 3.70% from 4.12% reported in June 2020. After running over 4% since March 2020, business inflation expectations fell below 4% in July 2020. Trajectory of one year ahead business inflation expectations is presented in Chart 1.
Uncertainty of business inflation expectations, as captured by the square root of the average variance of the individual probability distribution of unit cost increase, has remained same around 2.1% during June-July 2020.

B. Costs
The cost perceptions data shows some signs of moderation of cost pressures.
In this round of the survey, roughly 1/3rd of the firms still expect significant (over 6%) cost increase as compared to the same time last year. This proportion has been gradually declining after March 2020. Around 53% of the firms now believe that the current cost increase is 3.1% and above as compared to the same time last year – down from 58% reported in June 2020 (Chart 2).

Chart 2: How do current costs per unit compare with this time last year? – % responses

C. Sales Levels
Over 66% of the firms in July 2020 report that sales are ‘much less than normal’ as against over 81% firms reporting in March 2020.

While there seems to be some gradual improvement of sales, around 85% of the firms in the sample still report that sales are ‘somewhat or much less than normal’ (Chart 3). Note that this proportion has remained over 70% since June 2019.

 

Chart 3: Sales Levels – % response

D. Profit Margins
Over 62% of firms in the sample in July 2020 reported ‘much less than normal’ profit as against 68% in June 2020.
Over 83% of the firms in the sample in July 2020 expect ‘much less than normal or somewhat less than normal’ profit margins – down from 86% that reported in June 2020 (Chart 4). Note that this proportion was hovering around 75% since June 2019 till January 2020, thereafter it went up further.

Chart 4: Profit Margins – % response

1 The Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) provides ways to examine the amount of slack in the economy by polling a panel of business leaders about their inflation expectations in the short and medium term. This monthly survey asks questions about year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit, sales levels, etc. The survey is unique in that it goes straight to businesses – the price setters – rather than to consumers or households, to understand their expectations of the price level changes. One major advantage of BIES is that one can get a probabilistic assessment of inflation expectations and thus get a measure of uncertainty. It also provides an indirect assessment of overall demand condition of the economy. Results of this Survey are, therefore, useful in understanding the inflation expectations of businesses and complement other macro data required for policy making. With this objective, the BIES was introduced at IIMA from May 2017. The questionnaire of BIES is finalized based on the detailed feedback received from the industry, academicians and policy makers. A copy of the questionnaire is enclosed.
Companies are selected primarily from the manufacturing sector. The ‘BIES – July 2020’ is the 38th round of the Survey. These results are based on the responses of around 1300 companies.
2 ‘Normal’means as compared to the average level obtained in the preceding 3 years. Data of perceptions on sales and profit is not available for April 2020.

The IppStar Indian newsprint expert outlook and update

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newsprint
Newsprint storage of one of the major South Indian daily newspapers

According to our latest quarterly Indian newsprint expert update, there is no fixed or ruling price today with hardly any buyers for newsprint and some Indian newspapers having eight months of paper consumption in their warehouses. Nevertheless, a reference price would be US$ 375 for 42 gsm and US$ 365 to 385 for 45 gsm newsprint. 

This price is likely to hold till the end of the 2020 calendar year. Moreover, some of the mill offerings’ prices are likely to remain at this level until the end of the financial year in end-March 2021.

Consumption and demand

There is a severe drop in both demand and consumption of newsprint of almost 30-35%. This has contributed to high inventories, in many cases, to nearly excess levels. The Indian annual consumption in 2020 is less than 2 million tons, of which 90% is imported newsprint. The domestic suppliers are also trying their best to sell their newsprint (available only in 45 gsm), but there are hardly any significant orders to date.

Both the news media publishers and the newsprint manufacturers and distributors are pinning their hopes on the coming festival season. They hope that newsprint consumption will substantially increase in the season that begins in September and goes on till the new year.

Hardly any of the Asian newsprint manufacturers are availing special trade concessions or free trade agreements to avoid import duties, pr selling newsprint to Indian customers. South Korean mills are selling at prices matching those of the other global newsprint suppliers. As per Table 1, it is clear that newsprint sales in 2020 at 545,000 metric tons are 41% lower than in 2019, in which newsprint sales to India were at 925,000 metric tons.

Table 1.
Newsprint sales by major suppliers to India in 2020 vs 2019 (in metric tons)

Paper Companies K’poga S/Kamsky Kruger Resolute NorskeS S.Enso Others TOTAL
2020 175,000 100,000 100,000 50,000 45,000 25,000 25,000 545,000
2019 250,000 175,000 125,000 75,000 75,000 75,000 100,000 925,000

The three leading indigenous newsprint manufacturers are Khanna Paper Mills, Rama Newsprint, and Emami Papers. Of these, Emami has switched from newsprint to other more remunerative grades of paper. Apart from the low prices and insufficient demand, there is currently a lack of funds to finance raw material purchases. At the same time, pollution control measures and environmental regulations have become very strict. The weakness of the Indian Rupee viz a viz most currencies has also affected both imports and indigenous supplies.

Table 2. Newsprint paper mills and machines changes in output
Fresh capacity, closures, and changes of output grades

Outlook and assessment for the future

Currently, the Indian newspapers are suffering from low demand in both circulation and advertising. The fragile economic conditions prevailing are keeping advertising revenue low. The economic slump is likely to worsen, and there is no sight of relief or any silver lining. On the contrary, in the minds of the newsprint buyers, there are fears of anti-dumping duties being applied to newsprint imports at globally competitive prices. There are fears that the lights may go out of the industry sooner than expected.

Conclusion

The newsprint industry will go through a significant change with some mills or paper machines closing down and some converting to other grades of paper. In the last few months, 1.9 million tons of European and Scandinavian newsprint production from just two companies has been scheduled for shutting down and change to other grades. 

The switchover of printed news media consumers to digital channels is already almost 35% currently, and it is growing! As far as newsprint prices, there may be some recovery by Q2 or Q3 of 2021 to US$ 500 per metric ton.

The Indian Rupee and oil prices

The Indian Rupee may oscillate in the range between Rs 75 to 77 to the US dollar. As far as oil prices, they will continue to range below US$ 50 a barrel. Oil is likely to vary between US$ 45 to 40 per barrel. Here also demand has to pick up, and the oil price could go even lower!

Editors note: (Table 2 has been added on 15 September morning IST and the subtitle has been added on 10 October.)

Story Wars & Squirrel Learning merger

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Squirrel Learning Photo by Caleb Martin on Unsplash
Squirrel Learning Photo by Caleb Martin on Unsplash

7 September 2020 – Squirrel Learning, the school improvement and digital learning service, and Story Wars, the educational creative writing platform, have merged to help schools, teachers and parents use digital educational technology to enhance the online learning experience. As Covid-19 has changed the way we communicate across the globe, one of the main areas to feel this shift is education and what is known as the edutech sector. Moreover, unlike any other school year before, educators have to re-evaluate the way they approach teaching.

The Story Wars and Squirrel Learning partnership will provide the companies with access to education professionals with a district sales capability to provide next-level training and development. Both companies believe that merging Squirrel Learning’s professional development services and classroom expertise with Story Wars’ products for engaging young writers will create new opportunities.

Merged under the name Squirrel Learning

“Story Wars and Squirrel Learning are a perfect mix,” said Story Wars owner, Thomas Andersson. “We have a wide range of applications and consultants who can help schools, teachers, and parents to use digital solutions in the best way.” Story Wars and Squirrel Learning will now be working closely together on developing new resources, including the development of an all-age approach to the teaching of writing skills. The new Squirrel Learning suite of GoApps, including GoRead and GoWrite, will be aligned with the existing Story Wars products to ensure that writing skills are built on from Early Years to secondary and young adult writers.

“Our goal is to provide young people with access to learning opportunities no matter where they are,” said Gavin Hawkins, co-founder and director, Squirrel Learning. “With this exciting new merger, we will be using the power and appeal of Story Wars to connect classrooms and work with educators to achieve measurable gains for students.”

Through Squirrel Learning products like GoWrite, learners of all ages can become published writers. Each project undertaken within GoWrite and Story Wars will have a publishing component to ensure that all writers have access to their work in a physical hard-copy book and a digital alternative.

Squirrel Learning provides education technology curriculum and services to schools and district councils throughout the United Kingdom and educational consulting services around the cross-curricular use of technology, outdoor activities, resilience building, and citizenship programs.

GoRead

The recently developed GoRead, a digital reading record for use within school and at home, is a direct result of the challenges posed by Covid-19, where there is a requirement to lessen the need to pass books and materials between home and school. Through GoRead, all students within a school will have their own account, making it easy to keep a continuous record of all their reading books, teacher comments, help files, videos, and parental support materials.

“This coming academic year poses a unique set of challenges for schools, teachers, students and parents,” says Andersson. “Our joint aim is to offer support in the form of digital interventions, professional development opportunities, exciting and imaginative content and products and supportive approaches to parental engagement to ensure that all young people have the best chance to succeed whether working at home, school, or through a hybrid model of online learning.”

The merger increases the capacity to develop future products within the GoApps suite, such as mathematical problem solving, citizen science, personal development, and well-being.

Squirrel Learning and Story Wars

Based in the UK, Squirrel Learning believes that all young people deserve access to a balanced curriculum of opportunity, with support and challenge. They work to support schools and educators to ensure that young people have access to inspirational, engaging and rewarding digital and non-digital activities, with supportive and impactful interventions. Their work with schools focuses on improving young people’s educational outcomes by ensuring a skilled and confident workforce, innovative and creative uses of technology supported by imaginative and resourceful approaches to the curriculum.

Story Wars is a Swedish company established in 2015 to deliver creative writing platforms to schools, teachers, libraries, and parents. Its platforms include www.storywars.netwww.storyduel.com, www.storywarskids.com, with approximately 80,000 registered users worldwide and an online meeting tool www.storywarstalk.com.

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