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Paper Straw Manufacturing

The objective of this project was to analyze whether a viable business case existed for my client (a paper manufacturing company) to enter paper straw manufacturing for restaurants and food service customers. The company has a proprietary paper treatment that waterproofs fibers, which would be a key differentiator in the paper segment of the drinking straw market. Current paper straws quickly get soggy, fall apart, and impart off-flavors to beverages.

paper straws

The study investigated the potential benefits, challenges, and financial implications associated with manufacturing paper straws for this client. Key considerations were acquisition of a paper straw production line, profitability, and alignment with the company’s values and future goals.

Market Analysis:

Investigated the competitive landscape, including existing paper straw manufacturers and their market share. Assessed the current market of paper straws and evaluated by size, structure, water permeability, and construction. Surveyed existing and potential regulatory factors (plastic straw restrictions, etc.).

Cost Analysis:

Investigated the production lines of five different companies selling paper straw equipment. Ranked each by capabilities and limitations to enable a multi-faceted analysis of options. Provided installation plans and blueprints to ensure equipment would fit in existing facilities.


Analyzed costs associated with raw materials, equipment, machinery, labor, and overhead as well as any other manufacturing-associated and pre- and post-production expenses, such as facility modifications, quality control, and distribution.

Production Capacity and Efficiency:

Evaluated production capacity of the proposed manufacturing line and determined efficiency and reliability of the machinery and equipment. Assessed production lead times and ability to meet market demand.

Environmental Impact:

Assessed the sustainability advantages of paper straws over plastic alternatives.

Investigated any certifications or eco-friendly initiatives associated with paper straw production.

Financial Analysis:

Evaluated pricing and revenue models for paper straws. Calculated the projected revenue based on market demand and pricing estimates. Analyzed fixed and variable costs to determine the breakeven point and profitability. Performed a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the return on investment (ROI).


Based on the comprehensive analysis conducted, the following key findings were delivered to the client:

  • Market Demand: The market for paper straws in the restaurant industry is expanding due to increasing environmental concerns and regulatory pressures to reduce plastic waste.

  • Competitive Landscape: While several paper straw manufacturers exist, they all lack high performance qualities of plastic. They get soggy, fall apart, and impact the flavor of the beverage. There is space in the market for a high-performing paper straw.

  • Production Costs: The initial investment for setting up a manufacturing line was within budget, but the profit margins were low.

  • Production Capacity and Efficiency: The proposed manufacturing line has the potential to meet market demand with a reasonable production capacity, subject to efficient machinery and streamlined processes.

  • Financial Viability: With the projected market demand and cost structure, the paper company could potentially achieve profitability within a reasonable timeframe. There are many companies in China producing very inexpensive paper straw options. The path to sufficient profitability in the space was to differentiate by creating a straw that performed considerably better than what was available.


Based on the findings of this analysis, investing in a paper straw manufacturing line appeared to be a viable option for the paper company looking to cater to the restaurant industry. Material and manufacturing tests need to be conducted before a product would be ready for market, but the option is viable. If the company proceeds with the purchase of a line, a thorough business plan and ongoing market monitoring will be crucial to ensure long-term profitability and flexibility to adapt to changes to the market.



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