By Kat McDaniel, Principal at MEDiAHEAD
While we’ve felt the pains of the paper shortage in the printing industry for a long time, the extreme, national paper shortage is creating order delays and some printers are refusing work since they just don’t have any paper on the floor.
The paper shortage can be attributed to many factors such as tightening capacity, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions. During the pandemic, many mills switched to making cardboard because everyone was ordering everything online.
The misalignment between capacity and demand has led to longer production lead times, late deliveries, and volatile pricing. Experts tell us we can expect capacities to remain tight through 2022 and potentially into 2023.
As we continue to navigate this tumultuous market here are some tips to bear in mind.
1. PLAN AHEAD.
As a result of high capacity and strains on the supply chain we are seeing unprecedented lead times, some as high as 12 weeks. Planning and communicating needs for upcoming campaign can allow us to source the appropriate material as needed.
2. BE FLEXIBLE IN PAPER STOCK SELECTIONS.
In certain circumstances, it may be easier to source an uncoated vs a coated stock or an 80 lb. stock vs a 100 lb. stock. If you are unsure of a paper substitute our team is happy to make recommendations. All the “cool” papers that designers loved to spec have just disappeared from the market.
3. WE STOCKPILED A LOT OF PAPER ON THE FLOOR THE LAST 6 MONTHS
We have certain paper stocks allocated to us every month and thankfully our plant manager, Mike Leavey, started advising me to buy skids whenever they were available.
As always, we are here to help and answer any questions you may have regarding the paper market and any upcoming changes.