Sun Chemical said it would implement surcharges on inks and varnishes across its European business from 1 April.
It said that rocketing demand for alcohols for sanitising and pharma products because of the Covid-19 situation had resulted in a squeeze on supplies, and a rapid increase in prices. Ethanol is in particularly high demand.
“In order to secure its supplies for the coming months, Sun Chemical has accepted higher prices to comply with current market conditions. The risk always exists that governments may seize the products for health emergency reasons – a situation that is beyond Sun Chemical’s control,” the ink giant stated.
The surcharges will vary depending on product types and Sun Chemical will communicate specific details directly to customers. The surcharges will continue “until the situation normalises”.
Nicolas Bétin, EMEA director of product strategy, commented: “The pressure on the alcohol supply chain is causing an abrupt rise in raw material costs and unfortunately requires us to increase customer prices.
“We will continue to work with our supply chain partners to manage and minimise the impact on our customers.”
Separately, British Coatings Federation chief executive Tom Bowtell has written to the minister for business and industry Nadhim Zahawi, warning that the diversion of key raw materials – in particular ethanol and n-propanol – could impact the industry’s ability to keep producing inks that are used for food packaging and other essential goods.
In a statement supported by nine other industry bodies, Bowtell said: “In the past few days, BCF members have reported that prices for ethanol and n-propanol have risen by up to 350% since last week, adding thousands of pounds a week in additional material costs. There are greater concerns that supplies will dry up completely in future.
“BCF has already been in touch with officials at BEIS to make them aware of members’ concerns and how these shortages of supply may affect the availability of food packaging and packaging in other critical areas, like pharmaceutical products.”
The BCF also warned that there are also concerns that some countries are considering introducing a restriction on ethanol, limiting supplies exclusively for health and pharmaceutical purposes.