More Price Increases Announced for Printing Papers
Coated freesheet sheet and coated mechanical prices climbed $40/ ton in March, with producers successfully implementing the widely backed price increases. Cost inflation has absorbed a great deal of the price increases that have opened 2021, so producers looking for margin recovery after the losses of 2020 will likely be back for more. Indeed, coated freesheet producers have already announced another price increase for April on both sheets and rolls. RISI expects coated freesheet prices to rise $30/ton in the second quarter due to long lead times and cost pressures on domestic and offshore mills alike. (RISI)
Operating Rates Continue to Rise
Coated freesheet operating rates are expected to register 95% in the first quarter and climb above 95% for the rest of 2021. Paper supply has dropped enough that operating rates are still expected to come in quite strong despite the demand decline. Some mills are said to be operating at well over 100% of capacity. Thus, it is no surprise that the increase on sheets announced for March was successful. RISI continues to project three coated freesheet price increases for 2021. Producers have already announced the next round, with major domestic producers announcing additional price increases on sheets and rolls of 3-6% for April. Sheet supply seems to be particularly limited due to pandemic related logistics delays in processing offshore shipments at ports and limited container availability globally. (RISI)
Verso to Invest US $45M-$55M in Escanaba, Quinnesec Mills
Verso expects to invest an estimated US$45 million to US$55 million to improve capabilities and product offerings at its two Michigan mills. Verso plans to expand the range of paper grades that it produces on existing machines at both its Escanaba and Quinnesec mills. The Company is evaluating a capital project to put a new former on the No. 1 machine at Escanaba (E1), which will give it the ability to make heavier cover stock grades, as well as improvements to handle the sheet better on the machine and through the coater. Verso will do similar upgrades on Quinnesec 41 (Q41).
USPS Says Delivery Performance Has Recovered From Severe Winter Storms; Peak Holiday Demand
The United States Postal Service announced strong improvements in mail delivery performance across all categories and regions as its third-party operated air network and mail and package processing and delivery operations continued to stabilize from a historic peak holiday season and severe February storms throughout the country. For the week of March 6 through March 12, 2021, overall service performance recovered to pre-holiday levels with First- Class Mail reaching 83.69 percent of the Postal Service’s national performance standard of one-to-three-day delivery. Mailing of Marketing Materials (90.84 percent) and Periodicals (77.64 percent) rebounded to levels of service performance on par with Postal Service deliveries before last year’s recordbreaking peak holiday season, from mid-November through mid-January.