The direct mail sector and the paper market saw a significant and constant transformation in 2021. These developments were influenced by a shift in the remote workforce in the United States, worldwide supply chain disruptions
(especially in the paper industry), and national labour constraints, which encouraged evolution as corporations sought new methods to contact customers. We anticipate that this phase of fast change will last until 2022, as the printing sector adapts to shifting customer needs and persistent economic insecurity.
The 2021 challenges
A short overview reveals that 2021 saw unprecedented occurrences that had a market-wide influence on raw materials, paper, and transportation supply and services.
- The Gulf Freeze in February prompted numerous companies to declare Force Majeure, raw material shortfalls continued into Q4, and prices rose by 4% to 10% in 2021.
- The paper market for white paper goods has grown by 5 percent to 10 percent year on year. North American pulp prices increased by 40% over the previous year, while paper price increases in 2021 varied from 7.5 to 20%.
- In 2021, the nationwide load-to-truck driver ratio might reach 12 loads to 1 driver.
- Crude oil prices went up 128% each year, with the average national diesel fuel price rising to $3.72/gallon in December from $2.41/gallon in September 2020.
- Container transportation expenses have risen about 195 percent in the last year, with supplier levies set to be implemented in 2022 to offset escalating costs.
- Per the Labor Department, there were over 11 million available jobs in the United States in October 2021, the largest number recorded, with over one million more jobs than jobless individuals.
In 2022, we anticipate that speed optimization will be a prominent selling factor throughout our sector, as firms seek strategies to mitigate postal costs and service downgrades while increasing return on marketing investment (ROMI). To solve these issues, more communication among Selling, Management, and Supply Chain becomes critical to assure timely delivery and precise administration of paper and other critical components for direct mail manufacturing.
The trends in the paper market
Because of rising e-commerce sales, the COVID-19 problem increased the divergence trend across paper sub-sectors in a $188 billion paper industry. Global paper output is anticipated to be 416 million tons in 2022, 4 million tons less than in 2018.
Paperboard is outpacing printing and writing papers; industry analysts predict that by the end of 2022, paperboard will represent two-thirds of worldwide paper output. A variety of printing and writing materials, including newspapers, have seen their global production paper market share fall from 31% in 2015 to an expected 25 percent in 2021.
White paper product manufacturing has dropped in recent years as market demand for cartons and other paperboard goods has grown considerably, with coated freesheet volumes falling 48 percent from 2017 to 2021 and uncoated freesheet volumes falling 12 percent during the same time.
One of the pulp paper industry‘s advantages is the ever-increasing need for packaging products. Internet sales of pulp and paper goods are increasing in the United States and China, with much more than 15% of pulp and paper sales in the US predicted to occur online by 2022, thanks in part to the e-commerce boom.
Paper mills and retailers anticipate quotas and restricted supply well beyond 2022. However, as paper mills seek to refill stocks and demand levels down, most analysts predict that prices for pulp and wood would moderate after the second quarter.
The evolution of the supply chain
The following paper supply chain market constraints are projected to persist through 2022:
- Inflation is being driven by persistent interruptions in the availability of paper and raw materials, as well as uncertainty in maritime, air, and land transportation.
- Labour shortages caused by an increase in remote workers and people shifting to higher-paying employment;
- Rising global demand has created demand uncertainty, resulting in drastic shifts in consumption, with consumers moving their attention away from services and toward the purchase of items.
In contrast, various tailwinds have arisen that will propel paper supply chain operations in 2022, including:
- Greater market awareness and increased attention at the executive and boardroom levels.
- Changing analytic capabilities are causing a rapid increase in the usage of analytics to handle supply chain concerns.
- Increased awareness of corporate social responsibility is exerting pressure on distribution network leaders to rethink “cost” and shift to “sustainable value,” with corporations rethinking supply sources and perhaps shifting from an international to a more regional supply model.
Improving Collaboration through Strengthening Relationships
Can the scarcity end? Nobody knows for sure, but there are compelling grounds to believe that labour, paper supply chain, and paper market issues will persist well into 2022, if not longer. Efforts are being made to strengthen supplier relationships on a regional and global scale, as well as to encourage cooperation between customers, sales, and operational processes to improve visibility, allowing the IWCO Direct supply chain team to respond to your paper, production material, and service needs as quickly as possible.