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Kraft paper firm honored for exports

A paper and packaging company founded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been recognized as one of the 20 largest exporters in the United States by the trade publication Journal of Commerce, the Kraft Group planned to announce Wednesday.

The ranking is the highest ever for International Forest Products and puts the company ahead of such giants as Caterpillar Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. Foxborough-based International Forest Products, the biggest exporter in New England, has steadily climbed the list since cracking the top 100 for the first time in 1997.

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The company’s latest jump, from number 27 last year to number 20 this year, can be attributed largely to growing demand for recycled paper products, said chief executive Daniel Kraft, one of Robert Kraft’s four sons.

“It’s like a sign we have in the Patriots’ scouting department: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Daniel Kraft said.

Exports were measured in 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a standard based on the size of typical containers loaded onto cargo ships. International Forest Products — which exports paper, pulp, and logs to more than 90 countries — sent 56,000 TEUs overseas last year.

Robert Kraft founded International Forest Products in 1972, the same year he acquired the Rand-Whitney Group, another paper and packaging company.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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