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Paper shortage threatens global print industry: WPCF

The World Print & Communication Forum (WPCF) has warned that current paper shortages will have severe repercussions in the global supply of print products and endangers the rebound of the graphic industry after the pandemic. WPCF member Walter Kuhn, former president of the PVCA, says Australian paper manufacturers and importers have taken steps to secure sufficient stocks but constant price increases are 'the greater issue.'

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wpcf log 22 “While during the past two years graphic products have clearly witnessed a decline, demand is now almost back to pre-pandemic levels in most countries,” the WPCF said. “In 2020 customers were forced to reduce print advertising and many switched to electronic means for their communication. In mid-2021, this market has come back to print, but customers are now facing surging prices and uncertainty about the supply of paper and board.

“The ongoing strike in some Nordic paper mills aggravates the situation not only in Europe, but also in other countries such as the US. 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 inability to print will cause large financial losses not only to the printing company, but also to the final customer. This will entail foreseeable shortages of many printed consumer goods and some products including food and medical supplies that cannot be put on the market due to a lack of packaging.

“Tensions on all markets are increasing with the war in the Ukraine and will cause additional supply problems to produce forest-based products that source their wood or pulp from Russia or the Ukraine.”

walter kuhn

 "Greater issue is the constant
  price increase": Walter Kuhn
    former president, PVCA

WPCF member Walter Kuhn, former president and current VP of the Print and Visual Communication Association of Australia (PVCA), added: “The Print & Visual communication sector is reliant on its raw materials for its existence and as such the impacts from the strikes and unrest within Europe will have a flow on effect for us.

"This said, the Australian paper manufacturers and importers have taken steps to secure sufficient stocks to ensure the continued viability of the industry. The greater issue is the constant price increase which can have the effect of driving consumers away from print communication to the alternative digital communication.”

Ford Bowers director of the US-based Printing United Alliance warned: “Print as an industry is uniquely threatened by the supply chain issues that are roiling economies around the world, especially as it relates to paper shortages. This creates a ripple effect as lack of paper products, marketing materials, packaging, and other necessities of business creates a drag on recovery in many different markets. Print is one of the essential requirements for business transactions at all levels of delivery for virtually all goods and services. A concerted effort to alleviate these issues will serve the broader economic recovery.”

Kamal Chopra, president of WPCF and chairman international relations of the All India Federation of Master Printers, said that printed products had witnesed a decline during the past two years but demand was now rebounding to pre-pandemic levels.

"Now, customers are facing surging prices and uncertainty about the supply of paper and board. Industry leaders are saying there will be further paper price increases in the near future and the printers’ costs will quadruple. And even if you are willing to pay the price, there is a shortage of paper. It seems either mills have stopped its production or emphasised on exporting their production, thus there is a scarcity of paper. The print community is watching helplessly since even the government is not forthcoming despite the fact that paper is declared as an essential commodity under The Essential Commodities Act.”

The World Print & Communication Forum is a federation of printing associations from all over the world. 

https://www.worldprintforum.org