Chinese chemical plant explosion kills 80, hits ink supply chain

Flint Group has warned that a deadly explosion at a Chinese chemical factory last month has led to the supply of raw materials for publication and UV inks tightening around the globe.

An explosion at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi chemical facility which spread to adjacent units on 15 March killed nearly 80 people, injured hundreds more and forced thousands nearby to evacuate as the Chinese government forced the industrial park to shut down.

In the wake of the explosion, impacts on the international supply chain have hit the provision of pigments, pigment feedstocks, biocides and photoinitiators required for the manufacture of publication and UV inks.

However, provision of Flint products around the world will not be reduced, the manufacturer stated.

While raw material suppliers are raising prices, Flint has yet to announce any increased prices for customers, though the group has intermittently raised ink prices since early 2018 to offset disturbances along the supply chain.

Flint Group’s commercial, publication and sheetfed (CPS) inks chief procurement officer Michael Podd said: “Our hearts go out to the loved ones of those hurt or killed.

“This tragic incident is a sobering reminder of the importance of Flint Group’s strong, effective safety systems, the unyielding promise to regularly audit and improve those systems, empowering employees as part of the process, and mechanisms for change in case of identified risks.”

Flint Group’s stability at this time was attributed by Podd to its diverse supply sources and preferred status among suppliers. Raises in raw material prices will affect materials predominantly used for ultraviolet, red and yellow inks.

“Due to Flint Group's supply network and relationships, we will not see any negative supply impact at this time,” Podd added. “Raw material suppliers are raising their costs, however.

“We will communicate with customers as needed to address any impact on ink pricing.”

Flint Group started this year by increasing prices for packaging inks in Europe, while UV sheetfed and conventional inks were hit by a squeeze on raw materials last September.

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