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The Great Paper Shortage

January 15, 2022
Dear valued Clients and Friends,

In the last six months, paper pricing has increased over 100% for card stock and almost 60% for text-weight papers – if you’re lucky enough even to find some.

But why? Of course, we all know about the supply chain issue. Shipping container costs from Asia have increased from $2,500 to over $20,000.00. But why has the price of domestic papers mirrored price increases from Asia and Europe? Why are Canadian and U.S. paper mills increasing their pricing to match Asia?

Surely fuel costs have gone up, as has inflation in general. But has it amounted to a 100% paper cost increase? Or is it because North American mills saw an opportunity to get some payback for sales lost to Asia and Europe?

Years ago, we made the rational decision not to buy paper from China. Why? Because North American paper mills have been struggling, and we simply didn’t want to prop up a country that steals from American companies.

You would think that North American paper mills would see the increase in Chinese paper pricing and supply issues as a golden opportunity to build goodwill and re-establish relationships lost to cheap Chinese paper. Sadly. They haven’t. Instead, they have decided to punish paper buyers and make what they can while they can. Short-sighted? Check. Stupid? Check. Fatal? Quite possibly.

If you want to know why printing prices have gone through the roof?

Look no further than the greed and short-sightedness of our domestic paper producers. They have taken a golden opportunity and turned it into a vindictive scorched earth policy. Those of us being scorched will not forget it! We expect this behavior from China, but we arc sickened to see it on full display here in North America.

This supply chain issue will pass-it always does. But the damage inflicted by predatory paper pricing will have a lasting effect that just might accomplish what the communist Chinese couldn’t – the total elimination of the North American paper trade. Consider that many end users are now reexamining their print marketing strategies after the cost of print has increased so dramatically. Also, consider that many print buyers are no longer able to get their “go to” premium brands such as Mccoy, Opus and Accent Opaque. When the paper crisis ends, these buyers might just decide that they don’t need premium domestic papers anymore

As always, we care about the American worker but are infuriated by the reckless management that decided to punish an entire industry. Printers are mad. Paper merchants are mad. Customers are mad – not a great business model for domestic mills.

Fortunately, our boycott of Chinese paper did not extend to our paper partners in Japan, South Korea, and Europe. These paper mills, without exception, have absorbed some of the increased shipping cost. When the paper crisis ends, you can bet that we, like many high volume paper buyers, will remember who tried to help the printers and who exploited an opportunity and significantly hurt our industry. 

With no relief in sight, paper availability will continue to be sporadic, and pricing will continue to increase. With any luck, we may see some relief in the 3rd quarter. (Fingers crossed).

This article was originally provided to us from one of our printing partners to better understand the current situation we are facing with paper in both price and availability.