All of Mercer's pulp mills produce Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft ("NBSK") - a premium pulp grade that is prized for its strength and reinforcing characteristics.
Production ProcessNBSK pulp is produced from slow growing and long fiber, northern softwood tree species. Typically, our wood is sourced from sawmill residuals and low grade pulp logs, the latter of which is debarked and chipped before beginning the pulping process. The process used to convert wood into NBSK pulp is a sulphate (kraft) cooking process. The woodchips are chemically cooked to separate the cellulose (the fibers) from the hemicellulose, lignin and extractives (the chemical compounds that hold the fibers together). Once the fibers are separated, they are washed, bleached, formed into sheets and dried. The sheets are packaged and shipped to customers around the world.
Market FundamentalsToday's modern paper products are a selective mix of different types of fibers. The strength characteristics of NBSK make it an essential component in a number of these products that we use in our everyday lives, such as tissue, printing and writing paper, and specialty paper. NBSK's strength characteristics are valued by papermakers, and as a result NBSK commands premium prices when compared to other pulp grades. Because it is relatively more expensive than other pulp types, end product producers generally try to minimize the amount of NBSK that they use. Paper producers' profit maximizing tactics and market fundamentals over recent history lead us to believe that NBSK substitution for lower value fibers will be more difficult in the future.
Globally, demand for NBSK-requiring paper goods - especially tissue, hygiene products, high-end printing and specialty paper - is increasing. This is due to improving global living standards in emerging countries, along with aging populations and growing demand for health and hygiene products. We believe that the NBSK pulp market shows strong long-term demand fundamentals.
Our PerformanceMercer is one of the largest NBSK market pulp producers in the world. We are constantly looking at ways to make our production process more efficient, and as a result our production capacities continue to increase.