Maharashtra print associations raise the alarm about rising paper prices by conducting a press event

Press event on unprecedented pressure on costs

press event
The press events were held at Mumbai Press Club

Some of the significant print associations from Maharashtra – Bombay Master Printers’ Association (BMPA), Mumbai Mudrak Sangh (MMA), Maharashtra Mudran Parishad (MMP), and Poona Press Owners Association (PPOA) – held a press event at Mumbai’s Press Club on 15 March to highlight the problems that the complete printing and packaging industry across the state are facing due to the continued rise in paper prices.

The BMPA was represented by its president Iqbal Kherodawala, MMS was represented by its president Prakash Canser, MMP was represented by its president Balasaheb Ambekar and PPOA was represented by its president Raveendra Joshi.

The associations called the price increase an “absurd, unending, continuous and cruel” drama faced by print businesses in Mumbai, Poona, and across Maharashtra. They said that print businesses across the country are facing unprecedented cost pressures.

Kherodawala comments on price hike in the Mumbai press event

“The price increase has been to the tune of 30%, 40%, and even 50%, and if this goes on and if our print buyers do not agree to give converters and printers a higher price, then the industry is going to get severely affected,” said Kherodawala in the press event. “The print industry is already under stress due to the pandemic.”

Kherodawala said the government should consider bringing paper and paperboards under the Essential Commodities Act, and they should ban their exports.

Joshi cited the example of Maharashtra’s educational sector, and the impact of paper price rise is having on its operations. He said that there are 32 universities in Maharashtra and the quantum of paper required is humongous. “Just imagine the effect this will have on the universities. Either the students will have to pay higher prices, or the universities will have to bear the cost,” he said. A similar adverse impact will have on the cost of school books, he added.

Ambekar said that many MMP members are very small businesses under deep stress due to the rise in paper prices. He added that if the trend continues, these businesses will see a sharp decline in their profitability.

Canser said that the industry could neither ask for a price increase from its customers nor reduce costs since they were essential expenses to survive in the lockdown.
All the representatives said that the apex umbrella body under which all regional associations from India get represented nationally – All India Federation of Master Printers is also actively pursuing an awareness campaign on the price spiral.

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

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