Coated woodfree paper consumption crashes 30% in 2018-19

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A near 30% decline in imports of Coated Woodfree (CWF) papers to Australia in 2018-19 continued to deepen as the financial year progressed. 

At just 129.9 kt for the full year, imports are lower than they were during the GFC. In the June quarter, imports totalled 31.2 kt down 36% on the previous June quarter.

Imports account for all consumption, and have done so for close to a decade.

No major sub-grade of what is typically, the highest-quality printing paper, was spared from the stunning performance. Even the main grade, Sheets <150 gsm, saw imports fall 18.3% to 67.9 kt. Imports of all other sub-grades collapsed by significantly larger proportions.

In a year in which chemical pulp prices rose substantially, the producers of CWF papers had little choice but to increase their prices. After years of emasculation in a market awash with paper, but amidst falling global demand, producers were forced to respond to higher input costs. There should be little doubt this impacted import volumes over the year.

The index chart below shows relative price movements since MQ’09. With the exception of the small volume of Reels >150 gsm, all of the grades of CWF papers are priced lower (on a free-on-board basis) than a decade ago.

This is an edited extract of an item that first appeared in the August 2019 edition (Edition 167) of Pulp & Paper Edge.

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