NVP: Is the UK carton industry in chaos?

Managing director of New Vision Packaging (‘NVP’), Stephen Shortland, has spoken out about the situation the UK carton industry is finding itself in, as falling domestic production, the pandemic and Brexit continue to bite into the sector’s supply chain performance.

New Vision Packaging is a provider of cartons, sleeves and boxes for the food, beverage, cosmetics, and confectionery markets. It has recently confirmed that it continues to maintain nine-week lead times on standard materials despite current market conditions.

“In the last week, we’ve been approached by two new customers seeking cartons that have been quoted eight to nine month lead times on their current orders,” said Mr Shortland.

“Everyone understands that UK domestic production of paper and board has been falling since the mid 1980s. We are relying more and more heavily on Europe – 54% of UK packaging-grade demand was satisfied by European imports according to the Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) in 2020. Now with the container availability issues and pent-up demand for fibre-based packaging, as high street retailing recovers, online continues to grow, and brands seek plastics reduction in their packaging portfolios, lead times and prices are going through the roof.

“It’s obvious that demand is outstripping capacity. However, I can only believe that European board mills are reluctant to supply what is a challenging market in the UK, if we are seriously now seeing that type of lead time being quoted on jobs.”

“At NVP, we’re confident we can meet our customers’ needs in 2022. However, the broad carton market is under severe pressure and there doesn’t seem to be any relief on the horizon in the short to medium term,” concluded Mr Shortland.