The Printed Product is Back – strong demand for paper!

By Lasse Krogell, NOPA

Many of you readers attended the NOPA webinar in November last year about the developments in the demand of graphic papers. [If you are interested it is still possible to watch the recording from the NOPA webpage.] In the webinar Antti Makkonen, Sales Director Publishing at Sappi Europe gave us a very in dept report on the development of the paper demand.

Before the pandemic the trend of demand had been falling by an annual rate of 3 – 5 %. In 2020 the drop of the European graphic paper demand was close to 20 %. Many of us thought that this level would be the new normal, from where we would again continue with a small annual decline.

But now we are seeing an extremely strong growth in the demand.  During the first tree months of this year there was still a falling demand, even compared to the low figures of the corresponding months in 2020. But from April on there was a clear change. The Euro Graph Statistics shows April +18%, May +33% and June +31% growth in demand compared to last years’ months. Delivery times for paper are exceptionally long and some printers have even difficulties in getting the already ordered papers in time. Rumors tell that many mills are fully booked until the end of the year. Is this really true, or is it in the interest of getting the price increases in effect, that these rumors are out?

The demand is growing in all graphic paper grades but there are big differences. The strongest growth is in coated woodfree with figures exceeding 50% in May and June. Also coated mechanical grades show figures of around +30%. Even newsprint demand is growing by roughly 20% in May – June.

In any case the information shows that there is a clear demand for the printed product and that both publishers and companies using print for marketing are showing that there is a strong value in the printed product. Let us hope that this trend continues and that the printers will have a good booking of their presses during the coming months.

/Lasse Krogell