I guess if we all had the same crystal ball, we would all be rich, retired and not concerned with the paper markets! However, since no-one in my peer group has this much insight, I thought I would share some of our thoughts with you.
Fact: The last 15 months has been a radical change from history. We experienced imaging Dye Shortages, Governmental Interventions, Rapid Increases in Pulp, Closing of Paper Converters, and even the Sale/Merger of other paper converters. All of which have led to a record high costs. Despite the media attention on the negative, demand seems to remain strong.
Fiction: Thermal paper is not going away! I have read and heard many times that thermal paper is dying. Reality is that the common uses of thermal paper (POS) are changing quickly from the norm but are not retracting their importance in various markets and applications.
If we look back 20 years ago, the “Internet” was going to replace Commercial Printers. How sadly mistaken most of us were. Although the Commercial Print world adopted new technologies and made needed adjustments to business models, the “Internet” was not the end. In summary, the increase in costs will be much like the “internet” disruption of the past.
So where are we today, January 7, 2019? Historically most paper mills announce annual increases effective with a new year. However, in the thermal world, this is a strange start to a new year. Currently there are not new Increase Announcements on thermal paper! Additionally, we seem to be experiencing a slight softening of paper availability in the marketplace. This is not to say the paper is flowing freely, but we are starting to see paper from “alternative” sources again.
I do not wish to create too much optimism in the market, but we are starting to see short-term signs of thermal paper markets softening. How does this effect all of us? That is truly the Million-Dollar question for your crystal ball!
For questions or comments:
Brandon Kent, Vice President, Telemark Diversified Graphics
bkent@Telemarkcorp.com or 800-289-8353 x 240