Packaging paper and board imports up, but its finished products that are exploding

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Australia’s packaging paper and paper board imports were up 4.3% in total, year-ended April 2024. Imports totalled 236.1 kt for the year. As the table shows, the major increase in imports has been in Corrugating Medium and Testliner/Multiply. For the most part, these are recycled grades, but the Corrugating Medium includes increased imports of ‘semi-chemical’ medium, which includes virgin fibre pulp.

At a time when the Australian economy is struggling under the heavy weight of cost-of-living pressures, it is unsurprising to observe relatively small movements in trade volumes of packaging products. As a further example, exports of packaging paper and paperboard were up 3.4% over the same period, but the order of magnitude is far greater, tracking above 800 kt per annum.


Australian Packaging Paper & Paperboard Imports: Apr ’24 and Year-Ended Apr ’24 (‘000 tonnes & %)

April 2024 (‘000 tonnes)

Prior Month Current Month Prior Year Current Year Comparison with Prior
Month Year
Containerboard 10.5 12.6 88.0 115.1 19.5% 30.8%
Kraftliner 3.2 2.9 51.5 46.7 -8.5% -9.5%
Corrugating Medium 4.7 8.2 29.1 44.1 73.6% 51.8%
Testliner/Multiply 2.6 1.4 7.4 24.3 -45.3% 228.8%
Cartonboard 12.4 14.7 132.0 115.7 19.0% -12.3%
Coated Kraftback 2.4 2.6 14.3 13.0 6.8% -9.1%
General Bleached Cartonboard 9.9 12.1 117.6 102.7 21.9% -12.7%
Sack Kraft 0.4 1.0 6.4 5.3 165.4% -17.2%
All Packaging 23.3 28.2 226.4 236.1 21.5% 4.3%

Source: ABS and IndustryEdge


This ‘raw’ paper and board data is relevant in another context. The material in the table below is all ‘unconverted’ or ready to be converted into finished packaging products. The modest movements in these volumes are notable, but most important is the context provided by the huge rise in pre-converted or finished packaging imports that are described below. Increases in finished goods imports are one of the drivers for increased local production of paper bags and sacks, as an example, but there is growth in other formats also.



Imports lift 23.5% to 193.8 kt tonnes, year-ended April

Annual imports of pre-converted packaging products increased across the year-ended April 2024, up 23.5% to total 193.8 kt for the year. As shown in the table below, imports are dominated by three large grades. The largest proportion of annual imports are now taken up by the smaller sized Sacks & Bags, accounting for 45.1% of all imports. Folding Cartons make up the second largest proportion (28.5%), and Corrugated Cartons rank third (20.4%).

For the year-ended April 2024, annual imports of Sacks & Bags <40cm grew 38.6% to 87.4 tonnes. Folding Carton imports were up 10.1% to 55.3 tonnes, and Corrugated Cartons were up 27.2% to 39.6 tonnes.

Australian Converted Packaging Imports: Year-Ended April 2024 (‘000 tonnes & %)

Source: ABS and IndustryEdge



Imports lift 8.8% year-ended April

Australia’s imports of Moulded Fibre products increased in value across the year-ended April 2024, up 8.8% compared to the prior year. Import values steadily increased to peak around early 2023, then flattened out for the rest of that year. In January & February 2024, import values jumped, but have fallen back subsequently, totalling AUD6.5 million in April.

Total annual imports for the year-ended April 2024 were valued at AUD73.7 million, compared to the AUD67.7 million imported during the year prior. Used for a variety of purposes, including disposable medical pans, imports were sourced from a variety of supplier countries, however the majority originated in the Asian region.

The two key supplier countries continue to increase their share, holding 93.5% of the market, whilst supplies from most other countries fell. Chinese supplies continued to dominate, accounting for 65.6% of the total imported value (AUDM48.4), while Malaysia accounted for 27.9% (AUDM20.6).


This content was first published in the June Edition of Pulp & Paper Edge (Edition 228). The content is supported by substantial data files, available for subscribers to download. Contact IndustryEdge for subscription information.

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