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Market pulp is the primary ingredient used to make paper and related products. It consists of crushed wood pulp that has been broken down into individual fibers or small clumps of fibers. Market pulp is produced by pulp mills, then sold to papermaking firms all over the world. This product represents a type of commodity, and is traded and sold like gold, sugar, salt and other commodities.
Standard wood pulp is produced at pulp mills, which break lumber down into wood chips, then into separate fibers. This can be achieved through mechanical or chemical means. The pulp is then bleached and refined so it is ready for use in the papermaking industry. Non-market pulp is then used immediately within the same facility to produce paper or similar products.
Papermaking firms that do not have pulps mills on site must purchase pulp from other manufacturers. This pulp that is manufactured in one facility than sold to another manufacturer to create a final product is known as market pulp. Papermaking companies can purchase this pulp in large bales, rolls or bags of air dried "fluff." The choice of format depends largely on the manufacturing process used and the desired appearance and quality of the paper being made.
Market pulp is generally divided into different types or grades. These grades are based on the type of chemicals and techniques used to produce the pulp, as well as its texture and source. Different grades are designed for specific uses. For example, higher grades can be used to make find writing paper, and offer the highest level of brightness and the lowest amount of contaminants. Lower grades are designed for lower quality application, and often contain more impurities an contaminants, such as ash.
Once the pulp has been sold to its final user, it can be used to make a wide variety of products. In addition to paper, market pulp is used in the production of cardboard and product packaging, as well as paper towels an diapers. It also serves as a vital component in some forms of fabric manufacturing.
Like other commodities, prices for market pulp are largely influenced by activities within the commodities market. Due to the interactions of investors and speculators, prices may fluctuate based on factors other than supply and demand. This means that prices are vulnerable to market forces outside of the papermaking industry, which can have a significant impact on paper mills and manufacturers.