Cascade Tissue Group expects private label growth

Since the COVID-19 epidemic has evolved into something local, with the advent of new forms, tissue paper makers must work hard to stay on top of the game. The virus affects manufacturers in a number of ways: production, products, markets and, of course, labor. With the return to normal life in a number of countries, tissue paper manufacturers are also resuming at a more regular pace.

For the Cascades tissue group, a constant exists during the epidemic period: its employees (numbering about 2,200). “Employees are at the center of our success and it hasn’t changed,” said Jean-David Tardiff, the group’s president and chief operating officer.

The way businesses operate may need to adapt to new market conditions, such as inflation and labor shortages, but “we have been able to weather the epidemic in a positive way,” Mr Tardiff added. “We have become more agile and efficient. A

These efforts have borne fruit as the company is now the fourth largest producer of tissue paper with a capacity of 650,000 tons per annum in 17 machines for making toilet paper, paper towels and napkins. The largest portion of production goes to toilet paper for an annual Canadian income of 4 1.4 billion. By adopting a virtual way of communication, the company has saved on travel, because there is no alternative to travel.

Paletting robots at our Scapes, Oregon plant.

Despite the change in operations, Mr Tardiff says the cascade culture has proven to be a major asset. “Our core values ​​have always been brilliant. We have an iron will. He cited the example of installing a new SAP system in his new Orchids Paper resource where everything was practically done, even training. “We have always been close to our staff,” Mr Tardef added. It even goes as far as organizing virtual social activities.

Cascades Tissue Group has 14 plants across North America. Since Canada has stricter COVID-19 laws than the United States, has this affected the company’s operations and how it operates? Mr. Tardife assured us that the important thing was to take a coherent approach. In an American factory, for example, there was no need to wear a state mask. Even so, all factory workers had to wear masks. “The reasons were explained and the measure was well received by the staff. It’s just part of our culture of honor, “said Mr Tardef.

Across the company, additional cleaning systems have been implemented and the ventilation systems of all factory, conversion units and office buildings have been rigorously tested.

It’s no secret that the sector away from home or Away from home (AFH) has suffered greatly from the epidemic. The sector is recovering, but not as quickly as desired. “We are not back at the 2019 level yet,” Mr Tardif admits According to some analysts, it will take 2023 and even 2024 to find a market like the pre-epidemic level.

In the outdoor sector, paper towels are still 10-15% lower than in 2019. The area of ​​table napkins is 10-17% behind where toilet paper is 20% in the United States and 30% less than in pre-epidemic periods in Canada.

One advantage of the epidemic was consumers’ preference for paper towels over air dryers. Numerous studies have shown that air dryers continue to spread germs. Mr Tardiff confirmed that research had shown that 73% of users preferred to wipe their hands with paper instead of blowing in the dryer. “We are working to take advantage of this situation,” he assured.

Your brand is our brand

While the outdoor market is recovering, another growing market is the personal label. Although these brands have been around for decades, their growth in North America began with the 2008-09 recession. Many consumers have opted for less expensive private brands and have continued this practice for economic or qualitative reasons. Since then, the widespread perception that private labels are inferior in quality has begun to fade.

“Growth will continue. Since 2017, private labels have grown faster than any brand, ”said Mr. Tardiff. In Canada, however, the top two national brands were very aggressive from a marketing standpoint and grew slightly more than individual labels. Mr Tardiff added that the Canadian market was a little more integrated, which benefited national brands. But overall, in North America, the trend is that private labels will continue to seek market share.

Mr Tardiff further noted that Cascade has a good range of customers and strong partnerships with major retailers. “Your brand is our brand,” such as Cascade’s philosophy. The company strives to ensure high quality for both its own brand and retailer. Furthermore, Mr. Tardif emphasized that retailers have “the power to show off. If you look at US retailers, they would focus on national brands. Today, the focus is on private labels and their high quality.”

In the right place in the growing market

The acquisition of Orchid Paper in 2019 has significantly improved the US network of Cascades Tissue Group. Mr Tardiff confirmed that the consolidation of the company’s assets had been completed. “They are well-located and benefit from sophisticated equipment. South America is a growing market. This acquisition makes us more competitive in the Southeast while giving us better access to the South-Central United States. There is still work to be done to improve the quality of Virgin Fiber products, but overall, we are on the right track, ”assured Mr. Tardiff.

Waterfall 10may22 3New toilet paper line at our Prior, Oklahoma plant.

Work is also underway on the 284,000-square-foot, 64 64 million conversion plant in Scapus, Oregon, which opened in 2017 for the outdoor sector. The epidemic forced Cascade to review its business strategy to add products to the retail market. Although the plant was originally designed to produce six million cases per year of hand towels and toilet paper made from virgin and recycled fiber, it recently added a line of packaging equipment for retail brands as well as paper towels and tables.

“The epidemic has slowed us down, but we are certainly making up for lost time,” Mr Tardef continued. It is a great factory with good robotics and efficient equipment. There was market impact, but adding products to the retail market helped a lot. A

Prior to the epidemic, Asia exported large quantities of jumbo tissue rolls to the United States. Covid turned everything upside down, which turned out to be an opportunity for Cascade.

The scapula plant uses less than 50% of the St. Helens plant roll (capacity 110,000 tons / year). “The factory order book is full. The demand for jumbo rolls is excellent on the west coast. A

Currently, the company’s consolidation rate is about 75%, but it is geographically unbalanced. Mr Tardiff cautioned that the company has worked hard over the past three years to improve its supply chain and logistics processes, a work that continues.

The company still has a large conversion potential that it wants to use. It added 13 new conversion lines – three in Canada, 10 in the United States – but closed 28 lines elsewhere and removed five lines from closed sites.

When asked where growth is heading, Mr Tardif said it would depend on the opportunity. But he also specified that the capacity increase would be 50-50 divided equally between outdoor products and retail products. What is the key to ensuring sufficient flexibility to switch from one to the other?

One of the main objectives of Tissue Group is to produce private label products with national distributors and retailers. “We can compete from coast to coast. Especially when it comes to roll products. We try to follow the market trends. A

The group mainly produces conventional tissue paper. It does not have a TAD (or thru air-dried) machine, although with the help of an ATMOS machine and a QRT machine, they can produce the equivalent of a TAD process.

In conclusion, Mr. Tardif noted that sustainable development has always been at the heart of Cascade’s DNA. The company has launched an ambitious sustainable program for the period 2021-25. For the tissue group, this involves significantly reducing water consumption, which would be possible with very little or no short-term effort. This purpose is particularly targeted at orchid sites where concrete initiatives will be taken to close the loop and recycle water.

Electric boiler projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are also on the menu. “If we compare ourselves to our competitors, we will have a good start,” said Mr Tardif. All work is performed according to scientifically proven purposes. And there are many more opportunities to recognize the importance of sustainable development, be it for water, energy and chemicals. This is where we can make a difference. Retailers and distributors are now very sensitive to this and we can help them achieve their goal of reducing their carbon footprint. A

The epidemic certainly continues to impose part of its challenge, but the Cascades Tissue Group sees more opportunities than negative effects.


Founded in 1964, Cascades provides sustainable, innovative, and value-creating solutions in packaging, hygiene, and recovery. The company employs about 10,000 women and men in a network of about 80 operating units in North America. www.cascades.com


Graeme Rodden PortraitGraeme Rodden Has covered the decoration and paper industry for over 40 years, as editor of several well-known paper industry magazines.

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