Leader in high-performing
paper and packaging materials

Billerud is a global leader in high performance paper and packaging materials – passionately committed to sustainability, quality and customer value. We serve customers in more than 100 countries with recyclable products made from cellulose fibers.

Net sales by product category, 2023

Net sales by product category, % Per cent
Liquid packaging board 24
Graphic paper 22
Containerboard 14
Kraft and specialty paper 14
Sack paper 8
Cartonboard 7
Market pulp 11

Net sales by operating segment, 2023

Net sales by operating segment, % Per cent
Region Europe 66
Region North America 28
Solutions & Other 6

Key events

A challenging year

2023 was a challenging year compared to an excellent 2022. This was due to lower sales volumes caused by a weaker market and historically high costs. There were some positive milestones however, including the successful completion of the Frövi recovery boiler, implementation of a more agile organization, and a positive result from our efficiency enhancement program.

Efficiency initiatives deliver

In the beginning of 2023, Billerud launched a three-year efficiency enhancement program to improve profitability that includes cost-reduction measures in both regions. The announced target for the program was an EBITDA uplift of SEK 1.5 billion by the end of 2025. The program was initially estimated to deliver SEK 400 million in 2023, but already in June, Billerud announced an accelerated delivery of the program, raising the ambition for 2023 to SEK 600 million. This target was achieved by year-end.

Recovery boiler up and running

Billerud’s transition to a circular society continues with the completion of a new SEK 2.6 billion recovery boiler at our Frövi mill. The new boiler runs on fossil-free biofuel and will contribute to lower emissions to air and improve the mill’s energy efficiency. The project, which was announced in 2021, was delivered on time and within budget in the third quarter of 2023.

At the top for sustainability

For the fourth consecutive year, Billerud’s sustainability work was recognized by EcoVadis with a Platinum grade in its annual evaluation. This puts Billerud in the top 1% ranking in the industry regarding the successful integration of sustainability principles into the business.

CEO's statement

Ivar Vatne, President and CEO

Billerud ended 2023 with a healthy balance sheet despite significant market headwinds. Heading into 2024, we have defined three key priorities for profitable growth.
41.2
Net Sales, SEK bn
3.3
EBITDA, SEK bn
5,800
Number of employees

Trends and the business environment

Trends and the business environment

Billerud’s ability to develop high quality, renewable packaging materials matches the rising need for packaging driven by major global trends. Sustainability, urbanization, changed consumer behavior and a focus on health and safety are among the trends that continue to have a positive effect on our business.

Our business

Our business model

Sustainability is at the core of our business. Our production is in ten locations on two continents where responsibly managed forests are close at hand. We make high-performance, recyclable materials that are used for the packaging of food and consumer goods, industrial use and printed communication. People all over the world depend on our products.

Our regions

Europe

Region Europe serves the entire world with packaging materials that are manufactured in Europe. More than 60% of our sales are to packaging manufacturers within Europe, while the rest of our sales go to other geographies.
27.1
Net sales, SEKm
2 753
EBITDA, SEKm

North America

Region North America serves the North American market with graphic papers, specialty papers and pulp, all produced at its two mills in Michigan. More than 95% of our sales are directed to customers in the United States.
11.5
Net sales, SEKm
1 618
EBITDA, SEKm

Our strategy

Strategy for sustainable and profitable growth

Our overall objective is to make high performance packaging materials for a low-carbon society. Supported by market trends and our strategic choices, we are well positioned for profitable growth.

Read about our strategy

 

Targets and target fulfillment

Billerud has financial targets for growth and profitability, coupled with principles governing the company’s indebtedness and dividends to shareholders. Three key targets, linked to safety, the climate footprint, and recyclability of products, support our sustainability work.

The target is for net sales to increase by 3–4% per year. The 2023 outcome was –3% so the target was not reached. Net sales excluding currency effects, the acquisition of Verso on 31 March 2022 and the divestment of Managed Packaging on 31 August 2023, declined by 7%, due to lower sales volumes and negative mix and price changes.

Year Percent
2019: 3% 3
2020: -2% -2
2021: 10% 10
2022: 63% 63
2023: -3% -3
3
Target 3-4%
-3
Outcome -3%

The target is an EBITDA margin above 17%. This was not achieved in 2023 as the EBITDA margin was 8%. Profit deteriorated due to lower sales and higher costs for raw materials, only partially offset by positive impact from the efficiency enhancement program and reduced negative impact of scheduled maintenance.

Year Percent
2019: 12% 12
2020: 11% 11
2021: 15% 15
2022: 19% 19
2023: 8% 8
17
Target >17%
8
Outcome 8%

The interest-bearing net debt in relation to EBITDA should be less than 2.5. The ratio rose from a very low level in 2023, mainly because of the lower EBITDA, but also due to increased debt. At the end of 2023, the ratio was 1.8, well below the target level.

Year Interest-bearing net debt/EBITDA
2019: 1.9 1.9
2020: 2.0 2.0
2021: 1.0 1.0
2022: 0.6 0.6
2023: 1.8 1.8
2.5
Target < 2.5
1.8
Outcome 1.8

The policy is to issue a dividend to shareholders of more than 50% of the net profit. The proposed dividend for 2023 of SEK 2.00 per share is in line with this policy. The proposed dividend corresponds to 103% of the net profit and 65% of the adjusted net profit for the year.

Year Percent
2019: 26% 26
2020: 135% 135
2021: 60% 60
2022: 26% 26
2023: 103% 103
50
Target >50%
65
Outcome 65%

The lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) for Billerud’s employees and contractors during 2023
was 3.6 excluding incidents due to the blastomycosis outbreak at Escanaba. The target for the year of less than 3.9 was thus reached.

Year Outcome
2019: 7.4 7.4
2020: 7.7 7.7
2021: 6.4 6.4
2022: 5.7 5.7
2023: 3.6 3.6
3.6
Outcome 3.6
3.9
Target <3.9

Emissions of fossil CO2 in the European manufacturing process increased sligthly in 2023 due to production stops because of market-related curtailments, and thus the annual target was not reached.

Nor did the North American production reach its 2023 target. Measures for increased energy efficiency and purchases of CO2e emission-free energy credits could not offset a negative impact of production stoppages.

 

Fossil CO2 in European production - kg/ton product

Year Kg/tonne
2019: 38 38
2020: 30 30
2021: 31 31
2022: 28 28
2023: 28 28
28
Outcome: 28
27
Target: <27

Fossil CO2 in North American production, kg/ton product

Year Kg/tonne
2022: 459 459
2023: 491 491
410
Target <410
491
Outcome 491

Billerud’s paper and packaging materials are fully recyclable and produced with responsibly sourced cellulose fibers. In 2023, Billerud’s European material portfolio was the first in the industry to be third-party assessed as 100% recyclable according to proposed EU legislation.

Although the recyclability of our products has long been the case, it was a goal for the year to have this established in a third-party assessment. The recyclability analysis was done through proven methods and testing by the reputable Papiertechnische Stiftung.

Recyclability of products

Year Percent
2023: 100

Sustainability

Billerud is a company with a strong international presence and sustainability as a primary focus. We continue the transition to a climate-neutral and circular economy based on renewable and recyclable raw material.

Three sustainability areas that are strategically vital for our future competitiveness

Safety remains Billerud’s number one priority, and together with our climate impact and materials for the future, constitutes the three areas that are strategically vital for our future competitiveness. We will continue on our sustainability journey, supported by a foundation that incorporates those aspects which we believe are fundamental to our efforts: resource efficient production, sustainable wood supply, engaging workplaces, responsible supply chain, community engagement and responsible business.

Environment

Billerud is committed to implementing measures within all our operations to minimize the impact on the environmental and the climate. We work towards minimizing our negative impact through investments in new technologies and systematically working with continuous improvements.

Our high-performance materials create value by enabling our customers to use less material in their packaging and reduce their carbon footprint.

Renewable raw materials from the forest are our most important resources. Sustainable forestry, whereby the social and biological assets of forests are preserved, is necessary to ensure a wood supply for years to come. We source our wood fiber from responsibly managed forests.

Learn more: 

Social

We strive to create safe and inclusive workplaces where good leadership and development opportunities enable employees to contribute and feel respected and appreciated.

We expect our suppliers to share our view of sustainability. We have set out requirements and we have routines and processes in place to follow up and evaluate our suppliers' sustainability work.

Billerud’s business concerns people and the society close to our mills. The ambition is to engage in local and global collaboration to help create sustainable value.

Learn more:

Governance

Billerud seeks to act responsibly in every part of the value chain where it is active, and to operate with integrity and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and international standards. Billerud aims to use its influence as a company to improve and strengthen responsible business also beyond its own operations.

Responsible business is crucial for the success of Billerud. The Groupwide governance framework outlines the hierarchy for steering documents, decision mandates and mechanisms to identify and handle risks. The framework comprises Billerud’s Code of Conduct and Supplier Code of Conduct, Group policies, Group directives, processes, procedures, and other supporting documents.

Learn more:

Thank you for reading

Billerud’s Annual General Meeting will be held on May 21st 2024, 15:00 CET, at 7A Posthuset, Palmsalen, in Stockholm.

Read more about Billerud's general meeting 2024