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Patchy recovery for the paper sector

Latest analysis shows the paper sector’s trade has recovered some ground in the first quarter of 2021, but it’s a patchy and limited recovery at best. Source: IndustryEdge

And moments after IndustryEdge published its latest edition, it learned of the sale of the Whakatane Board Mill in New Zealand (owned by SIG Combibloc) to the Smurfit Consortium had been announced. That is fabulous news for the people at the mill, their suppliers and customers and for the Australasian manufacturing base. A great way to start the week in an industry that sees too many closures and job losses.

Back to trade and we see that regional printing paper prices dipped 1.7% in March, according to IndustryEdge’s Australasian Printing Paper Price Index, but the new

detailed indices show some grades down sharply over the first quarter of this year.

Little wonder with imports down a massive 157,000 tonnes year-on-year to the end of March. Still, the value of imports rose almost 20% in March, compared with February –perhaps some signs of recovery.

Pulp prices remain at record highs, but most expect prices to moderate in 2H21, after most paper prices have risen, in line with international experience.

In that context it was a little surprising to see Australia’s pulp imports hit a five-year monthly high in March.

Those interested in the state of the local industry will examine the production capacity table and the associated chart.

Next month IndustryEdge will profile the New Zealand industry’s small base, bolstered by the intended continued operation of the Whakatane Board mill.