Tissue paper sales increased by around 20% in the first half of the current fiscal year compared to FY20 – while those of hygiene products almost doubled in the same period.
Industry players say sales increased during the pandemic as people became more health-conscious.
The impact of last year's 66-day countrywide shutdown, on tissue paper and hygiene products sales, was minimal compared to other industries. However, after the lockdown was lifted, the demand for these products increased a lot.
Industry sources said the demand for tissue paper was average before the pandemic. At the time, the increase in per capita income and rapid urbanisation fuelled the industry's growth.
Also, the demand for hygiene products showed an upward trend before the pandemic. Now, the sector is growing even more.
The country's tissue paper market size doubled over the last decade and is now around Tk500 crore. No data on the hygiene products market is available.
Of the total demand for tissue paper in the country, 95% is met by local companies and the remaining 5% is imported. Local companies also export tissue paper and hygiene products to around 23 countries.
In the past, the tissue paper market mainly depended on imports. Kallol Group first started importing Fay tissue paper from the UK back in 1980. It introduced the product to restaurants and party centres.
Around 40 local paper companies have now diversified their business to produce tissue paper and hygiene products to meet the growing demand.
Bashundhara Paper Mills Limited is the market leader in the tissue paper industry. With a variety of products, it holds around 75% of the market share while 20% is held by other companies.
Meghna Pulp and Paper Mills Limited, which produces Fresh brand tissue paper, is the second largest market player with around 8-10% market share.
Other brands include: Bangla tissue of East Asia Group, Sonali tissue of Younus Group, Fay tissue of Kallol Group, Persona tissue, Softy tissue, and Casper tissue.
After meeting local demand, companies export their products to: the United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, China, India, and Bhutan. Around 1,238 tonnes of tissue paper are exported annually.
Bangladesh's annual tissue production capacity was around 84,000 tonnes in recent years. It was 30,000 tonnes in FY17.
The Export Promotion Bureau's latest data shows that in the first seven months of FY21, local companies exported toilet and facial tissue, kitchen towels and napkins worth around Tk42.50 crore.
Industry sources said tissue paper and hygiene products markets grew by around 15% annually before Covid-19. At present, the annual per capita tissue paper use is about 4.1 kilogrammes.
The compound annual growth rate of the global tissue paper and hygiene products industry is 2.4%. The industry size was estimated to be $49.6 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $58.5 billion by 2027.
Different types of tissue paper are available on the market, including: facial tissue, pocket tissues, kitchen towels, table napkins, paper napkins, toilet tissue, hand towels, wallet tissue, jumbo roll tissue, and clinical bed sheets.
Md Mazedul Islam, assistant general manager of Bashundhara Paper Mills Limited, told The Business Standard the use of tissue products was low earlier but is increasing gradually now.
"People now use tissue paper at home and in the workplace to avoid the risk of Covid-19 infection," he added.
Bashundhara Paper Mills, a sister concern of Bashundhara Group, produces a variety of paper products. It started commercial production of tissue paper in 1997.
The company gradually expanded its portfolio of tissue and hygiene products. Now it manufactures eight types of tissue paper and ten types of hygiene products, including anti-bacterial wet wipes.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, the company's revenue slumped due to Covid-19, decreasing by 22.59% while profit fell by 2% compared to the previous financial year.
According to the company's financial statement, its local revenue from tissue paper sales decreased by 49% in the second quarter of FY21 but hygiene product sales jumped by 126%.
In FY20, its export revenue from tissue paper increased by 178%, and hygiene products by 166%, due to the surge in demand during Covid-19.
The company said after the lockdown, its sales of tissue paper and hygiene products increased rapidly.
In July-September of FY21, its revenue from tissue paper decreased by 6% while that from hygiene products jumped by 108% compared to the same period of the previous fiscal year.
In the second quarter of FY21, its revenue from tissue paper increased by around 22% while hygiene product sales grew by 158% compared to the same period of the previous financial year.