Increase in paper price hits book printers

Optimism amidst uncertainty and instability


“There is hardly any investment at this moment, and the market is full of uncertainties. So we do not intend to make any new investment right away. Although we have investment plans, we are not committed to it right now. Whatever investment we make will be towards strengthening our core business, which is book printing,” says Vasant Goel of Gopsons Papers.

According to Goel, the book printing market is braving rough waters for the last two years; adding to that is the shutting down of Ballarpur Paper Mill following difficulty in procuring raw material, that is, bamboo. The effect of the shut down has seen rise in paper prices up to 20%. Also, recently, Tamil Nadu Newsprint & Papers Limited and Seshasayee Paper and Boards Limited curtailed productions due to water scarcity. There is news of some government paper mills shutting down as well due to unavailability of raw materials. The capacity utilization at Gopsons has come down by 60% post the shut-down of Ballarpur Paper Mill. “We have been able to pass on the increased paper price to some of our customers, but this is a mixed bag. There is much indecision in the market,” Goel shares.

According to Bhuvnesh Seth of Replica Press, paper mills are taking advantage of the Ballarpur situation. Ignoring the standard rise in paper prices globally, Indian paper mills have extravagantly increased their prices by up 20%. Every month, paper mills are increasing their rates. Printers, therefore, are not able to quote paper rates to their clients upfront as the prices fluctuate and one can quote a definite price only at the time of the delivery. “How can a printer quote the price to a publisher,” reasons Seth. “Printers are already suffering massive losses.”

“I don’t know why print communities, publishers’ associations and AIFMP are silent about the crisis. They should raise their voice to the highest level,” says Seth. “I agree there is scarcity of pulps and the pulp price has gone up from US$ 460 to US$ 700 – which is, however, not so bad. It’s just that paper mills are exploiting the situation of demand-supply gap. They have multiplied their money in just six months by earning what they have not ever earned in a decade. To help come out of this situation, adequate funds must be pumped in for Ballarpur to stabilize its production as well as the high custom duty that we pay should be decreased.”

Nevertheless, Goel is optimistic about the future as he says, “I don’t know when the situation is going to improve, but I am quite optimistic about things settling down soon. I would say that the worse is over and things are going to move on for the better very soon. We are also looking forward to the implementation of GST in the country. This will help the printing fraternity to some extent.”

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here