Flint Group comments on current ink and coating supply chain challenges

Transportation of raw materials impacted due to Covid-19

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Flint Group Packaging, a leading provider of print consumables and equipment for the global packaging industry, has commented on the unprecedented supply chain volatility experienced in India, the Middle East, and Africa businesses. 

Upal Roy, managing director, Packaging India, Middle East, Africa at Flint Group Packaging, stated, “It’s clear that the global economy is experiencing tremendous pressure with demand for products outstripping supply. Global raw material volumes and prices, along with freight availability, are being heavily impacted. Compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, transportation and raw material shortages are causing a multitude of challenges for ink and coatings producers in our region.”

“For a wide variety of reasons, supply challenges are occurring for many critical raw materials used in the production of printing inks, including vegetable oils and their derivatives, petrochemicals, pigments, and titanium dioxide (TiO2). These products are in short supply and causing significant issues in vendors’ ability to forecast and plan shipments.”

Pigment prices, in particular, have surged recently due to increased demand from the architectural paints and wind turbine markets. As a result of the Chinese Energy Reduction Program, factory shutdowns in China have compounded the supply and pricing situation. 

With respect to petrochemicals, including UV, polyurethane, and acrylic resins and solvents, costs for these materials have been escalating since early 2020, with some of these having demand increases outside of normal levels. 

The overall logistics situation also remains difficult. The industry continues to face shortages in steel for drums and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) feedstocks used for pails and jugs. Increased eCommerce demand is driving a tight supply of corrugated boxes and inserts. Material allocation, production delays, feedstock Force Majeures, and labor shortages increase packaging costs. And then on top of this, the pandemic has been a catalyst for abnormal consumer purchase activity (both during and after shutdowns), causing unusual demand within multiple industries and straining both air and sea freight capacity.  

Flint Group focuses on the value of printing inks and coating

Jet fuel costs, for example, have increased as high as 8-10 times the norm, along with shipping container costs, further exacerbated by unusual ocean freight schedules and freight carriers being stranded or challenged to find ports to offload containers. Ultimately, increased demand and ill-prepared logistics have caused a critical freight capacity shortage. You can click for more information about the best logistic solution to put an end to this issue.

“It is now clear that these supply chain strains are almost certain to continue well into 2022. Furthermore, we expect container prices, raw material shortages, and cost increases to remain elevated into 2023. Even as some of these constraints ease and the recovery moves forward, global uncertainty remains regarding the coronavirus resurgence, changing consumer purchasing behaviors, and potential trade barriers.”

“Importantly though, the printing of all types plays an important role in producing the packaging that protects, preserves, and enables the transportation of food and other essential goods to consumers worldwide. The value of printing inks and coatings is clear, and our staff is committed to working together to ensure our customers continue to receive the necessary supply of inks and coatings for package printing.” 

 

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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