Industry suppliers confident they can meet demand
As shipping capacity tightens around the world local industry suppliers remain confident that they have secure supply lines to service the local industry, whatever the level of demand.
The majority of consumables and hardware used in the Australian print and packaging industries are sourced from overseas and shipped in. However shipping lines have been constraining capacity, with ships diverted from Australia to service the booming trade in China and the US. Retailers have already been warning the public to order now for Christmas.
Shipping costs have also been rising to previously unseen levels for the past 18 months, in some cases more than tripling from those of a year ago, and show no signs of coming down.
The end result for the local print industry has been price rises for paper, board, wide format media, and some consumables, but supply is being maintained. Tony Bertrand, marketing manager at Ball & Doggett, the country’s biggest supplier of printable media said, said, “We are fully stocked, and continue with our just-in-time model. Print businesses can be assured we have the stock and the supply.”
David Martin, CEO at Spicers said, “We probably have more stock than we have ever had. We have been forward ordering, and working hard to ensure supply. Our sales people are having conversations with customers right now on future demand. There are issues with shipping, and with mills in some cases. The inventory we have built is designed to put us in the best possible position to supply the maket.”
Savas Mystakidis, managing director of Heidelberg said, "Regarding consumables supply we are doing well, however we are holding much larger stock levels, and are ordering in larger quantities, due to the erratic delays in shipping.
"Customers should not be leaving their orders to the last minute as we all need to work together to safeguard from being caught short, even if the goods are coming from interstate. We cannot afford to leave our partners stranded without goods required day to day, but it is all coming at a cost of course. Prices are going up on raw materials and shipping in a double whammy, and whilst we try and absorb as much as we can, sometimes we have to pass on some costs to our customers in turn.
"Normal shipping times are being blown out by 6-8 weeks on both consumables and equipment at the moment, which we hope will improve in the new year."
In regard to presses, Mystakidis said, "Heavy metal leaving the factory is all on time, with demand controlling ex factory dates. Heidelberg has had a great year for incoming orders, so lead times are stretched a bit at the moment. Normal shipping would be six to eight weeks to get to Australia and New Zealand, however since Covid hit you are looking at 12-14 weeks as being the norm. We are all being held to ransom by the shipping companies who are doing as they please and on their terms. Frustrating indeed."
Matt Ashman, CEO of wide format, labels and textile solutions supplier Durst Oceania said, “We are fully loaded for consumables in our Australian warehouse. There is more than enough stock for everyone. We have new shipments coming in every two weeks. Shipping costs have soared, up by 30-70 per cent recently, but we are proud to say we have so far absorbed them all.
“Ever since Covid began 18 months ago Durst has been running to a dedicated purpose-designed plan to ensure its customers have access to all the ink they need, and it has worked perfectly.”
Many sectors of print are operating at a low ebb at present, with large parts of the economy in lockdown, meaning demand for consumables is lower than usual, however when that ends, demand is expected to surge back. Sydney has pencilled in the middle of October for limited opening up, and a month later for full opening. Melbourne will not be far behind. Between them the two cities account for much of the national economy, and if all goes well, will be fully open in time for Christmas, which the print industry anticpates will drive demand back to near pre-Covid levels.