Paper imports plunged by 30% in April

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The fall in print during the start of the Covid crisis has been highlighted by the April import figures from IndustryEdge, which says coated mechanical imports plunged, with bigger falls expected in May.

Plunging: paper imports

According to IndustryEdge – the bible of the pulp and paper industry, produced by Tim Woods – imports of coated mechanical stock used in commercial printing were down by 29.4 per cent, with uncoated mechanical down by 19.4 per cent.

Newsprint imports suffered the most, imports plummeting by 36.1 per cent, as regional and community papers around the country stopped printing, with the major players ACM and News Corp stopping the presses on almost 300 papers between them, and many smaller publishers also halting production.

According to the report, April's bleak figures will be superseded by those for May, which it says will be even worse, “The value of Australia's imports of printing and communication papers plunged in April, but expectations are for deeper falls in May, with some grades unlikely to recover.”

The overall value of all grades combined – newsprint, uncoated mechanical, coated mechanical, uncoated woodfree, and coated woodfree fell by 18.8 per cent compared with March.

The figures confirm what everyone in the industry knows, April was the worst month in the history of print for decline of print, as whole industries – including traditional major buyers of print such as retail, hospitality, tourism, travel, sport, and fashion – closed down due to the Covid crisis.

The hope now is that as the country begins to get back on its feet those industries will begin to request print again.

The IndustryEdge report also showed that tissue paper imports skyrocketed as toilet paper panic buying swept the nation, with the April value of tissue imports trebling, from US$37m last April to US$112m this year.

It also showed the sack kraft and other kraft imports shot up, mainly due to the huge increase in food delivery services during the closure of cafes and restaurants.

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