NZ sack and bag trade largely local, but watch pre-converted imports

Probably the world’s greatest dairy products exporter, New Zealand is inevitably a massive user of fibre packaging, including industrial sacks and bags. Like other forms of fibre packaging, New Zealand is largely self-sufficient in this sector, with imports playing a supporting role.

Having upgraded its Auckland sack plant in April 2017, Oji Fibre Solutions’ (OFS) NZD30 million investment ensured it maintained the apparent local stranglehold on bag and sack consumption, with the exception of fast-growing pre-converted bag imports.

We cannot currently estimate Oji’s annual production volume, but it must be coupled with what are relatively small annual imports of sack kraft (for conversion into sacks in New Zealand) of around 2.4 kt per year, and also imports of pre-converted Sacks and Bags.


Small imports of sack and bag paper

The chart below shows imports of sack kraft to New Zealand. Volumes of both unbleached and bleached sack kraft appear to be quite varied month to month and seem not to follow any seasonal or other pattern.

New Zealand Imports of Sack Kraft by Grade: Jan ’17 – May ’20 (tpm & NZDFob/t)



YE May ’19

YE May ’20

% Change

Sack Kraft – Unbleached




Sack Kraft – Bleached








Source: Statistics NZ



Get the data! Click here and download the fully searchable New Zealand import data series.


Examination of the countries supplying sack kraft to New Zealand provides only limited trend information. Starting with the unbleached sack kraft volumes, Australia and the USA shared the market until late 2018, since when Australia has entirely dominated supply, as the chart below shows.


NZ Imports of Unbleached Sack Kraft by Country: Jan ’17 – May ’20 (tpm)

Source: Statistics NZ



Having fallen almost one-third over the last year, imports of bleached sack kraft total only a little more than 1,000 tonnes per year. The chart here shows the major supplier nation is the Czech Republic, supported by a variety of countries whose contributions are largely irregular.

NZ Imports of Bleached Sack Kraft by Country: Jan ’17 – May ’20 (tpm)

Source: Statistics NZ



Imports of bleached and unbleached bag paper (specifically, other than sack kraft) are smaller by volume than the sack kraft imports. As the chart and table show, imports have declined over the last year, falling almost 20% to a total 846 tonnes.

New Zealand Imports of Bag Paper by Grade: Jan ’17 – May ’20 (tpm & NZDFob/t)


YE May ’19

YE May ’20

% Change

Bag Paper – Unbleached




Bag Paper – Bleached








Source: Statistics NZ


The main reason imports of bag paper have declined appears to be the increase in imports to New Zealand of already converted bags and sacks. The data here requires some explanation. The information set out below is divided by Multi-Ply v Single Ply, and also by those >40 cm wide v <40 cm wide. It is not absolutely clear, but IndustryEdge’s view is that in general, the bags >40 cm wide are typically industrial bags (eg. flour, cement, dairy powder), while the <40 cm wide bags are typically retail formats.


Pre-converted bag imports lift 42% year-ended May

Below, we can see that imports of pre-converted bags have grown steadily over the last two years, but mainly in the smallest and least robust format: Single Ply <40 cm. Our view: ‘thank you take away food and home deliveries!

In aggregate, pre-converted sack and bag imports were up more than 42% year-ended May 2020.


New Zealand Imports of Pre-Converted Bags & Sacks by Grade: Jan ’17 – May ’20 (tpm*)

Source: Statistics NZ

* based on gross weight recorded by Statistics NZ which includes related packaging materials for the imported goods




YE May ’19

YE May ’20

% Change

Multi-Ply >40cm




Single Ply >40cm




Multi-Ply <40cm




Single Ply <40cm









Get the data! Click here and download the fully searchable New Zealand import data series.



Other items in Edition 181 of Pulp & Paper Edge

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