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Key relationships – Customers

We adopt a partnership approach, where we develop long-term relationships with global, regional and local customers. We also accommodate more transactional customers. Where relevant, we will conduct R&D and develop products to suit customers’ specific needs.

In addition to the usual avenues of engagement, we engage through initiatives like the Sappi Football Cup (SEU); Printer of the Year (SNA); and by sponsoring the Citrus Research Symposium (SSA).

Shared priorities   Our response
High levels of service   We moved to a single customer relationship management (CRM) system across all regions. This has enabled us to manage customer relationships more effectively and provide better service by leveraging customer data and sales processes across the globe.
New or enhanced products that meet rapidly changing market demand  

In 2019 we launched:

  • Atelier GC1 paperboard with the brand promise ‘brilliance meets function’
  • Transjet Drive, a sublimation paper optimised for industrial printers with a glue-beltsystem
  • We relaunched Sappi OHG, the first paper wrapper for confectionery bars
  • We launched Sappi Seal, a paper-based packaging solution to replace heat-sealinglaminates by material with a high share of renewable sources
  • Heaven 42 under the auspices of IGEPA which owns the brand
  • A range of new release paper textures including Selva, Optima and Fiesta.
Support for paper, packaging, DWP and sustainability goals  

In terms of DWP, technical centres of excellence are located at Saiccor and Cloquet Mills.

Customers can use the competence centre for speciality papers and paper laboratory at Alfeld Mill.

In North America, the Sustainability Customer Council provides candid feedback, identifies emerging issues and helps to establish goals.

In South Africa, we co-fund with Cellmark (through its Paperseed Foundation) projects in our Tugela Mill community. Funding is in the form of US$0.50 per ton of sales per partner.

  • Information and campaigns to promote print as a communication medium and encouraging the use of packaging

We showcased our brands at Fachpak, Nuremberg; FESPA, Munich; Interzum, Cologne; LabelExpo, Brussels; Luxe Pack Shanghai; Northwest Materials Show, Portland; Packaging Premiere, Milan and the PRINTING United tradeshow in Dallas.

Globally, we continue to participate in industry initiatives like TwoSides.

Information about fibre sourcing and production processes behind our brands  

At the request of our customers, we participate in EcoVadis and Sedex in all regions.

SEU and SSA: We make paper profiles, wood origin declarations and information sheets available for our papers.

SNA: Has an updated EQ GHG calculator on the SNA e-commerce portal. This online tool enables our salesforce and customers to calculate the carbon savings achieved by buying SNA graphic and packaging products compared to the industry average.

See Uplifting lives in South Africa for details of SNA’s investment in Forests in Focus, a joint undertaking of the American Forest Foundation and GreenBlue/Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

Provision of technical information  

Globally, a series of technical brochures is available on our website


  • The Sappi Houston online knowledge platform
  • The POP site to provide targeted information on packaging and speciality papers (



Our paper and paper pulp product offerings are supported by strong technical teams at each mill and the technology centre in Pretoria.

  Opportunities for value creation
  • Meet customer needs for products with an enhanced environmental profile
  • Innovate to align with evolving market trends
  • Increase awareness of the importance of sustainability
  • Promote our customers’ own sustainability journeys
  • Keep abreast of market developments
  • Showcase our products and promote the Sappi brand.
  Challenges for value creation

Confusing harvesting with deforestation and lack of understanding of the manner in which the forests and plantations from which we source woodfibre help mitigate global warming.


Our Customer Council in SNA

At SNA, we have reinvigorated our Sustainability Customer Council, a forum for feedback from some of our strongest customer voices on egemerging trends in sustainability. The Customer Council is structured to bring diverse representation from our various customers’ segments (distribution, print manufacturers, publishers, packaging entities and corporate end users of graphics papers, paperboard and DWP for textiles).
The purpose is to learn from a cross-section of our customer base what is driving strategies and decisions around sustainable business practices and to learn more about opportunities and trends in the space. We have established a core group of eight that includes a mix of former and new members, representing all areas of our business.


SNA expands food safety management position

The implementation of a food safety management system (FSMS) at Somerset Mill was completed in 2019 with the implementation of ISO 22000, Food safety management systems – Requirements for any organisation in the food chain. This well-recognised global certification strengthens our positioning in the food packaging sector by providing additional third-party assurances to our customers beyond Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance.


Bringing charitable ideas to life

Through the structured Employee Ideas that Matter programme, SNA employees bring their charitable ideas to life. For four years, employees have been applying for direct funding to benefit the non-profit organisations that they are most passionate about, and the winners share US$25,000 in corporate giving to support their selected causes. Funding can be used in many ways—from financing a project, sponsoring a trail clean-up, or providing new equipment or supplies.

In 2019, Sappi received applications for nearly 40 worthy causes around the country. The competition was tough, but in the end 10 were selected. Grants were given for:

  • Outdoor reading space near the Oakland Public Library created a team of 37 Sappi employees for the ShineOnCass Foundation
  • Skowhegan AmeriCorps Outdoor Recreation Programme
  • Replenishment of library lost to fire at Meadowbrook Waldorf School
  • Sponsorship of summer reading and STREAM Club programme for Children Across America
  • Construction of a quiet space at Windham Primary School
  • Construction of 4 kilometres of trail along the Pine Valley mountain bike trail
  • Full-day construction of homes in Scarborough under Habitat for Humanity
  • Repair of homes as part of the Age in Place programme under Habitat for Humanity
  • Improvement of lighting around the 4 Seasons Event Centre, Carlton Amateur Hockey Association
  • Bikes for Books programme.

The next round of Employee Ideas that Matter applications will begin in January 2020.