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European Mechanical Publication Paper Shipments Down in 2009

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The just-released 25th edition of Demand and Supply Statistics, an annual report published by CEPIPRINT (Association of European Publication Paper Producers), shows that total deliveries of mechanical publication papers were "tightly squeezed" last year as the knock-on effect of the global economic recession filtered through all of the links in the paper supply chain. As a result of the squeeze, total shipments recorded a drop of 17% (4.6 million metric tons) in 2009. The level of deliveries of Western European mechanical publication grades fell to 22.1 million metric tons, the lowest point in more than a decade.

Total Western European deliveries of newsprint fell 14% (1.3 million metric tons) over the previous year, much more than the average drop of 1.3%/year recorded since 2000. Spain took the biggest hit to demand last year, closely followed by the U.K., France, and Italy. Italy and the U.K. suffered the most from cuts in paid-for circulation, but the negative effects reached across the whole of Europe and beyond, the CEPIPRINT report notes.

On the uncoated mechanical side, total deliveries were down 19% (560,000 metric tons) y-o-y. Last year saw demand for this paper grade decline due to falling retail sales and a sharp reduction in advertising expenditures. Uncoated mechanical improved (UMI) suffered greater losses than uncoated mechanical others (UMO), largely as a result of its exposure to the negative effects of the recession through newspapers and the lack of advertising. On the other hand, UMO was less directly affected by the recession-related cutbacks through its main end-uses such as books and telephone directories.

SC-magazine deliveries totaled 4.4 million metric tons last year, down 14% (725,000 metric tons) y-o-y. Despite the drop, this paper grade was the strongest performer of all European publication grades in 2009. The level of deliveries was supported by downgrading from coated mechanical reels, LWC in particular. The impact of such downgrading can be seen in the reduction of total deliveries for coated mechanical reels, which fell 22% (2.0 million metric tons) in 2009 compared with the year-earlier period. Grade-switching was certainly one reason for the drop, but also the steep decline in the main mechanical grades end-use segments of magazines, catalogs, and promotional materials.

Total Western European capacity for mechanical publication papers was reduced by 4.4% (1.3 million metric tons) last year, the third consecutive year of capacity contraction, after the previous two years saw capacity cut by 1.7% (2007) and 1.4% (2008). With total capacity standing at 27.3 million metric tpy in 2009, it was the first time the level has dipped below 28 million metric tpy since 2003. The Demand and Supply Statistics report is downloadable from CEPIPRINT’s website.


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