If something is illustrating the current shortage in paper it is the rising costs of recovered paper. The chart shows German recovered paper prices – indexed for 2015 as 100%. China, once the main destination of recovered paper closed their borders for most waste materials in 2018 – which includes most recovered paper. This sent recovered paper prices into a tailspin. The bottom was reached during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, when everything came to a standstill, at about 20% of the 2015 prices.
Since 2021 prices kept on rising steadily – which in hindsight should have been a warning. Since March 2021 prices remained at a record level for at least the last 10 years. I would have wished to attribute this to a rising environmental consciousness level, however quite simply the paper industry is needing all fibres they can get. Mill stoppages due to insufficient raw material supply are already happening and paper is getting pricey and scarce.
There are surely other factors playing into the price as well, as: rising logistics costs, other countries importing recovered paper, a general upturn in the economy, less paper in the system due to lower consumption in 2020, … Yet, this increase in recovered paper prices is mostly a sign of paper companies reducing their fibre and mill capacity too quickly after the Covid-19 drop and now not coping with the rebounding demand for paper. After a low 2020 print volume numbers this poses a great danger for stifling the recovery of the print industry in 2021.
In many European countries door drops are a huge alternative to addressed direct mail. The DMA just published their 2021 Annual Door Drop Industry Report for the UK. It might not be a huge surprise that door drop volumes and revenues were dropping in 2020 – after all the pandemic forced many businesses to restrict activity and scale down marketing. Yet a 33.6% drop for 2020 is quite drastic.
After a lot of speculation, finally the first sets of (real) numbers are out on how different print applications fared in 2020. The German printing industry association (BVDM) just published their 2020 print industry stats. The faint hearted should be warned – it is no pretty picture, however not unexpected.
Overall print revenues declined by 11.5% to €10.8 bn. This is somewhat in the expected range. There are some interesting details in the distribution, however.
Frequently, even within the printing industry, I hear that print is a small industry. That is certainly true when looking at the single print shop or even at a range of commercial printers. Adding up the pieces there is no doubt however, that print is a not a small industry.
The printing industry, as it is defined by the official statistics, has about 631,000 employees in the EU including the UK according to Eurostat for 2018. This includes prepress and finishing. It does not include big parts of packaging print, in-house print, copy shops and print in marketing and direct mail agencies.
From the 14th of June to the 18th Inkjet Insight is hosting the 2021 virtual Inkjet Innovation Week to educate the industry on the latest inkjet technology coming to market across document, labels, packaging and industrial segments. Technology coverage includes presses, press components, software and finishing. Anchoring the event are a series of 60 minute, expert-led webinars during the week of June 14th. An additional 30 minutes has been reserved for Q&A and questions may also be sent to experts in advance.
The 5 days do focus on the following segments:
Web-fed document production
Sheet-fed document production
Packaging & labels
Industrial and bespoke systems
Inkjet workflow and efficiency (software and hardware)
Together with Amy Machado from IDC and Elizabeth Gooding I will present on the second day on sheet-fed inkjet. We will cover market data, the latest launches, technology progress, where sheet-fed inkjet makes sense and what might come next.