We all use paper, lots of paper. From toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, diapers, paper bags, and cardboard boxes, just to name a few items. Then you add the envelopes, copy paper, marketing materials, and documents used in a multitude of businesses every day.
With demand for paper increasing daily why do we have a shortage? To start with, we need to look at some quick facts. What is paper made from, wood which becomes pulp. Pulp is what goes into making paper. However, wood is used in a plethora of arenas. Wood builds houses and commercial buildings, along with making furniture, sports equipment, and many people heat with wood. Don’t forget, wood is one of the most important materials when it comes to ship construction (you know, those ships sitting off our shore waiting to be unloaded.)
It’s no secret that the paper industry continues to go through rapid changes. The toilet paper shortage may be in the past, but the printing paper segment is still experiencing longer lead times, short supply, and cost increases. Not only have print book sales dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic, but consumers are also ordering most necessities online – all of which need to be packaged and shipped. Paper and packaging supplies remain one of the most essential commodities, especially for the printing and publishing industry.
As challenges continue with supply chain shortages, price increases, and delays, many paper mills are reallocating resources to process more cardboard and materials for the packaging of commercial goods, resulting in less capacity available for printing paper production. And because we’re recycling more goods than ever before, we are putting diverse fibers, plastics, and chemical additives into the final product, resulting in a lower-grade paper that needs to have more virgin pulp. We are also experiencing an increase in foreign paper, which comes by a slow boat from China, Japan, Germany, and Europe.
An example of another blow to the paper market. Verso Corp.’s Wisconsin Rapids Mill fell silent at the end of July 2020. It knocked some 900 people out of work and sent tremors across the Wisconsin economy, reaching from the plant’s gates to the Wisconsin forests that supply wood pulp to make paper. Each of these factors leads to less paper, increased prices, and longer lead times for the printing and publishing industry.
With all of this said, the demand for printed products has never been healthier. Businesses are ordering forms and documents, brochures, and flyers at an increasing rate. Requests for promotional products are at an all-time high. Humans love the touch and feel of a printed product, whether in the form of a marketing piece arriving in the mail or a handwritten envelope from a loved one. (Check out our Blog page and read The Magic of Touch.)
Paper is being supplied by allocation; your allotment is determined by the volume of paper you have used in past years. Alexander Clark Printing has a larger allocation and has adjusted paper inventories by finding new, creative ways to maintain our supply. Some stocks may have longer lead times, however, we have maintained an inventory of our most used paper stock. Our inventory is ready for your next print project. We ask you to please keep in mind that the paper shortage will likely cause higher paper prices and longer print lead times.
As you plan your next print projects, there are a few things that you can do:
Communicate your project requirements and completion dates as early as possible to your sales consultant.
Plan ahead and be in close communications with your sales consultant.
Specify paper based on grade and not the brand.
If you are looking for guidance through these challenging times, Alexander Clark Printing sales consultants are always available to help you.