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.
Drupa 2020 is history – that never happened. Drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well. But there is still virtual drupa in 2021 and we are all curious on how this experiment is going to work out. After all, a virtual event is almost the opposite to the live, meet and touch drupa we all know. Virtual drupa 2021 is going to take place next week on four days on your screen, from the 20th of April to the 23rd.
In times of generally declining magazine circulations, magazines for kids are doing well. This is according to a report in the Press Gazette. The Week Junior and First News in the UK have seen circulation increases and stable advertising revenues. First News has said order value is up 59% from its 62,000 a week circulation registered last year. For The Week Junior, a spin-off of the condensed news title for older audiences, circulation is up by more than a fifth to 85,000 copies a week. Especially during lock-down parents felt that kids needed to keep engaged and informed. Additionally, it served as an antidote against too much screen time. But it seems that this is not just a short-term effect. Surprisingly, customers are sticking with The Week Junior even though the publisher had anticipated a drop-off after a six-week trial period. This is proving that print is for kids not just in Covid times. Even advertising held up well. Ad spending reduced by companies closing or struggling during lockdown has been replaced by government funded educative ads.
During the pandemic up to now, children’s book sales have been booming as well. The Washington Post reports, that as Covid restrictions increased sales of books for kids boomed through March. Three of the top 12 categories for book sales were aimed at children, according to data from NPD Group, a market research company that tracks book-buying trends. From March through May, as the pandemic kept schools closed, that trend increased dramatically, with half of the 12 top-selling categories catering to kids, including three categories of juvenile non-fiction. Through mid-August, the category with the biggest growth was juvenile non-fiction, up 28 % from last year, while juvenile fiction rose more than 8 %.
Similar is observed in Europe. The German book publisher’s association states that July 2020 revenue from children and juvenile books increased by 7% over July 2019. Cumulative sales of children and juvenile books are 4.2% higher in 2020 than in 2019 despite the period of book shops closures – the only category of books scoring higher than in 2019.