Low Paper Supply, Higher Prices: How to Lessen the Impact on Your Business

Paper issues

Providing excellent service to our customers has always been our top priority at Brenneman
— even when we face challenges beyond our control, such as the current worldwide paper shortages and price increases. In all our years in this industry, we have never experienced this much difficulty sourcing paper. With the ongoing supply limitations and price increases affecting both coated and uncoated paper, we want to keep you informed and share some ways you can better ensure your print projects will be completed on time and as cost-effectively as possible.

What’s Causing the Paper Shortages and Price Increases?

Decades of Declining Demand for Print Paper
While it may seem contradictory, the stage was set for the current climate because of waning demand for print production over the last two decades. The emergence of digital communications and electronic media fueled the declining demand for print materials and the paper used to produce them. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation.
Many paper mills have closed or have repurposed their equipment to run other types of paper products, such as packaging materials and specialty pulps for personal care products.

Recent Increased Demand
As the world begins to adapt and recover from COVID’s initial impacts, the demand for print is increasing. Unfortunately, the permanent supply reductions have made it difficult for mills, even those operating at near-optimal productivity, to keep up.

A Perfect Storm of Cost Increases
Multiple factors contribute to the heightened prices we’re paying for paper these days. Raw materials, transportation, driver and labor shortages, and more play roles in the current pricing saga.

How Much Are Paper Prices Increasing?
Most of the increases are approximately six to nine percent. Some European producers have implemented energy upcharges to offset their utility costs. It’s likely that other foreign producers may do the same. These upcharges are adding an additional 12 to 15 percent to the cost of paper (coated more so than uncoated).

How Long Can We Expect It to Continue?
No crystal ball exists to tell us how long the lack of supply and escalating prices will continue. However, our paper partners say they expect to see costs rise and availability to remain low through 2022.

What Are We Doing to Help Our Customers?
Our partners have been working diligently to help us maintain inventory. And our estimating department spends much of the day trying to source paper so that we have enough vital materials in stock to meet our customers’ print needs. Still, we face the same frustrations that others in our industry are encountering as we’re not always able to get what our customers need when they need it.

Two Tips for Helping Us Meet Your Print Needs
Fortunately, there are some ways you can help minimize the impact the paper supply and cost issues will have on your business.

  1. Buy paper in advance.
    If you have a medium- to large-size job approaching, we recommend buying the paper from us ahead of time—at least 60 to 90 days in advance. We will hold the paper in our inventory so that it will be available when your job is ready to print.
    Price increases occur nearly every month, and pre-ordering paper for your projects will help keep your costs under control.
  2. Be flexible about the type of paper used for your projects.
    We’re experiencing a lack of availability across all grades of paper. Staying flexible—for example, choosing gloss instead of silk or selecting a different weight of paper—improves the chances that we can move forward with your print jobs.
    If you have questions or need help strategizing how to best approach your print jobs amid the current paper shortages, supply-chain issues, and price fluctuations, we’re here to help. Contact us to discuss your needs and concerns.