A look at the paper price development from the year 2000

Written by Lasse Krogell, Nopa

In my previous column I wrote about the shortage of paper. Luckily the UPM strike at the mills in Finland is over but it will still take some time for the demand supply balance to find its pace.

During the last months we have seen extreme price increases, not only in paper, but also in many other crucial materials and in energy. I have made notes of the paper prices for quite some time and decided to make a simple summary of what I found in my files. These prices that I here present are some kind of European average prices and the absolute values are not necessarily correct or even important. It is the fluctuation and the development that is of interest. I have not tried to calculate the prices from the different years to correspond the value of the Euro today, but all prices here are the Euro prices of the corresponding time.

In this article I look only at the prices for newsprint and lwc, but the developments of the other grades have followed these very closely.

In the year 2001 we saw a very strong price increase and newsprint rose to 650 €/tonne and lwc to close to 900 €. This turned out to be a not so successful attempt from the paper industry to increase prices, and as the result was a period of 20 years of slowly melting paper prices. Already in 2002, the prices had fallen to a level lower than the level prior to the price increase.

In 2015 there was a price drop when newsprint dropped from a 500 € level to about 420 € and the lwc from a 670 € level to 600 €. Before that the prices had been quite stable for many years.

In 2019 there was again an attempt to increase prices for newsprint from 420 € to 520 € and for lwc from 590 € to 670 €. But also, this attempt led to a recoil with headlines in the trade press in 2021 like; “Publication paper prices hit all-time low”. During winter and spring of 2021, the newsprint price dropped even below 400 euros in some regions in Europe. And lwc was down to 550 €.

From the summer last year there was a drastic change. The demand for paper started to rise. At the same time there were closures of publication paper capacity that I wrote about in my previous articles. Also, the price for electricity and gas started to grow rapidly and forced the paper industry to react. And as we all sadly have experienced, the UPM strike and then the war in Ukraine with the effect these have had on the paper supply added to all this. Newsprint has jumped from 400 € to over 700 € and lwc from 550 € to even over 1.000 €.

On top of these price hikes we hear about extra charges for the high energy prices and transport prices and others. I have also heard about situations where a printer urgently needs a paper delivery and gets that by paying a 300 € surplus. We are living in a strange world.

Above you can find a graph showing the price development for newsprint and lwc from the year 2000 to the beginning of this year.