September Paper Market Update



Producers of graphic papers continued to issue price increase announcements in August across all grades. Effective with September or October shipments multiple mills announced price hikes on Coated Freesheet (3-7%), Coated Groundwood (5-9%), Uncoated Freesheet (3-10%), Uncoated Mechanical (3-9%), and Supercalendered Paper (7%). Significant inflationary pressure on input costs and supply shortages of some materials are essentially forcing the mills to continue raising prices.


Challenges in the supply chain continue, including labor and truck driver shortages, higher costs for chemicals and other inputs, as well as for maritime freight, along with a lack of containers. “The overall supply chain is bad,” said one supplier. “Mills can’t get what they need to make paper. Printers are frustrated and struggling to get their jobs done. We have never seen a market like this before.”


The current tightness in the North American Uncoated Freesheet (UFS) paper market is likely to heighten in the next two or three months when major suppliers International Paper (IP), Domtar, and Packaging Corp of America (PCA) take scheduled maintenance downtime while seasonal and post-pandemic demand is picking up. IP has reportedly scheduled a maintenance outage at its largest mill in Eastover, SC, for eight days in October, and Domtar is taking maintenance downtime at its Windsor, QC, mill for 10 days, also in October. PCA is set to stop its Jackson, AL, mill for maintenance on Sept. 12-19. After removing UFS capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, North American producers are now finding it hard to meet customers’ demand, which has picked up with the back-to-school and office return movements. Mills’ lead times now vary from 4 to 16 weeks, depending on the grade. In response Domtar will restart a paper machine at its Ashdown mill, adding 185,000 tons of UFS capacity to its manufacturing network once the machine resumes full operation in January 2022. (RISI)

Demand and Operating Rate Forecasts (RISI)

U.S. Economy and Paper End-Use Indicators

N.A. Coated Paper Operating Rates

N.A. P&W Paper Producer Inventories

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