ITC Paperboards and Specialty Papers Division - ITC writes new gospel with Bible

ITC writes new gospel with Bible

Aug 06 2012

The Economic Times

August 6, 2012

It is, by most trade estimates, the world's largest-selling book, with consistent annual sales of around 25 million. It requires special paper. And an Indian blue-chip company is one of the largest players in this business, both in this country and may be soon, globally.

The book is the Bible. The company is ITC.

What connects the two is the paper and packaging division of the Kolkata-based company, best known for its cigarettes, hotels, packaged food, soaps and shampoos.

This division, the third-largest revenue generator for ITC after FMCG (including cigarettes) and agri business, produces the specialty paper that's a must for printing the Bible.

 ITC is one of the few paper manufacturers globally that can produce the high-strength yet super-thin paper that allows the voluminous text of the Bible to be printed into a small book. The Bible paper is thinner than even newsprint. This super-thin-quality paper is needed because Bibles have to be durable as well as easy to carry.

Other manufacturers include the Tervakoski mill in Finland, owned by Austria-based Delfortgroup AG; diversified firm Bollore that is headquartered at Puteaux, on the western outskirts of Paris; and another Paris-based paper manufacturer, Arjowiggins SAS, which specialises in creative and technical paper.

 "ITC's success in Bible paper is yet another example of our product development capabilities in the business-to-business space," says ITC Ltd Executive Director Pradeep Dhobale.


Dhobale, who heads the paperboards, specialty papers and packaging businesses, is tipped to be one of the favourites to succeed Yogi Deveshwar as chairman of ITC.

ITC manufactures the Bible paper at its Tribeni plant near Kolkata. It's the sole supplier of this paper to the Bible Society of India, which is the largest publisher of the Bible in India, catering to 90% of the demand.

The company, which has been in the Bible paper business for three decades, is now planning to go big globally. It already supplies the special paper to international Bible publishers and distributors like US-based Gideons International. Gideons distributes The Bible and New Testament in more than 190 countries. ITC also supplies the paper to Bible societies in neighbouring countries like Nepal.

ITC said it would be difficult to estimate how many Bibles are printed on its paper worldwide. For India, the Bible Society plans to print 2.2 million copies this year, plus another 2.5 million copies of The New Testament. Demand is growing in double digits, ITC says.

In contrast, there are scores of paper manufacturers for the Gita and Quran. These holy books are printed usually on the 40 gsm paper (the unit for paper density) which is almost the same as newspaper quality. However, Bible is printed on finer paper, which is 28 gsm, to make it thinner and easy to carry.

Registered Office: ITC LIMITED, 37 J. L. Nehru Road, Kolkata - 700071, India Ph: +91-33-22889371 | Corporate Identity Number: L16005WB1910PLC001985