Intergraf: Spiralling paper prices and shortages damaging print

Printweek team
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Rising paper prices and lack of availability is stymying the print industry’s pandemic bounce back and is likely to cause permanent damage according to Intergraf, which has issued a plea for the paper manufacturers to engage in “transparent discussions”.

Paper challenges impacting print's bounce back
Paper challenges impacting print's bounce back

According to the Brussels-based umbrella organisation for national printing industry associations, including the BPIF, the situation is so acute that in some member countries 40% of the paper needed from mid-February cannot be obtained.

While a number of paper manufacturers have announced price increases from February, in its statement issued this morning, the body highlighted the ongoing industrial action at UPM and its impact on the availability of lightweight coated (LWC) and mediumweight coated (MWC) publishing grades.

“The stocks of printing companies will not last until the strike has been settled and printers will be forced to announce to their customers their incapacity to fulfil the orders,” the statement said.

“This means that publishers will be forced to abandon print editions due to a lack of paper.”

While Intergraf acknowledged that during the pandemic demand for print and paper had declined, it said demand for print was almost back to pre-Covid levels.

However, it warned that rising paper prices and lack of availability could mean that clients that had switched activities to digital communications during the pandemic may be lost to print forever.

It also highlighted that the lack of other grades may impact the availability of other products, including food and medical supplies, where print is a critical part of the product mix.

lntergraf secretary general Beatrice Klose said: "Print is an essential and important part of our daily life. Many citizens rely on printed information.

“Apart from being a large sector of our own, our industry and our products support citizens, culture and all other economic branches in one way or the other. This support is endangered by the current tensions in the supply chain."

In its statement, the trade body highlighted that the 120,000 European print businesses, which employ 600,000 people, generate sales of €80bn (£67bn) annually and it called on the paper industry to “ensure a collaborative approach and transparent discussion of the current and future development of graphic paper supply in Europe”.

It further implored other European and national authorities to take the current situation seriously and “ensure sufficient supply of raw material (fresh and recycled fibres) to allow a continuous production of essential goods such as packaging, newspapers, magazines, books, and other print products that serve European citizens in their daily life”.

Last September, Bloomberg reported that 100 million catalogues were not printed in the US due to lack of paper.

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