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Preliminary statistics for 2022 released by the Confederation of European Paper Industries show the impact of high energy prices and of an eroding EU and global economic growth. The sector can however capitalise on positive long-term trends, which the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan could accelerate
“Long-term trends for our industry show that we can be ambitious about our future,” comments Jori Ringman, Director General Cepi, Confederation of European Paper Industries. “Now we need the EU Green Deal Industrial Plan to be equally ambitious. We are confident that a transition towards a greener economy is in the long-term an opportunity for the European paper industry.”
According to preliminary statistics, the production of paper and board in Cepi member countries decreased by 5.9% (down to 84.8m tonnes) in 2022, exports fell by 13.3% in comparison to 2021. The consumption remained stable, while demand grew for all types of cardboard and paper, except graphic paper.
Demand for sanitary and household grades has grown by 3.6%, for packaging paper and board by 0.5%. At the same time, demand for graphic paper remained negatively impacted in 2022 (-1.8%), because of the declining demand observed in printing and publishing.
The production of graphic grades fell by 11.3%. After an uptick in 2021, it seems now back on a downward trend. Newsprint decreased by 9.9% whilst printing and writing papers decreased by 11.5%, as a result of machine closures and conversions.
The production of printing and writing papers – used for magazines and catalogues, direct mail, directories, etc. – decreased at different rates depending on precise grade categories. Output of coated mechanical paper and uncoated mechanical paper decreased by 19.5% and 13.2% respectively. Uncoated woodfree grades – copy paper – have decreased by 5.8%, and coated woodfree grades by 12.0%.
Overall, this means that production of coated and uncoated graphic papers decreased by 15.8% and 8.5% respectively. Production of woodfree graphics showed a decrease of 8.0%, whilst output of mechanical graphic papers fell by 16.3%.
The production of packaging grades is estimated to have decreased by 4.6% compared to 2021. Within packaging grades, case materials – mainly used for transport packaging and corrugated boxes recorded a decrease of 4.8%. The output of carton board plus other packaging board – mainly used for retail packaging – decreased by 4.1%. The production of wrapping grades – used for paper bag production – decreased by 5.2%.
The share of packaging grades accounted for 59,8% (59.1% in 2021) of the total paper and board production, with graphic grades accounting for 26.1% (27.7% in 2021). Output of all other grades of paper and board – mainly for industrial and special purposes – decreased by 6.1%, with a share of 4.8% of total paper and board production.
Sanitary and household paper output increased by about 2.2% compared to 2021, to levels close to those reached during the Covid crisis and accounted for 9.3% of total paper and board production.
The production of pulp (integrated + market) has decreased by 3.7% compared to the previous year, with a total output of approximately 35.9m tonnes. It was impacted by temporary downtimes and strikes at the beginning of 2022.
Output of mechanical pulp decreased by 5.4%, whilst production of chemical pulp fell by 3.3% compared to 2021. Chemical pulp accounts for 77% of total pulp production. Output of market pulp also showed a decrease of 3.7%.
Based on cumulative data from the first nine months of 2022, it is expected that total paper and board deliveries for the year decreased by 3.3% compared to 2021, and exports to countries outside of Cepi’s membership by 13.3%. This reflects last year’s paper production decline in Europe, which particularly impacted exports, and the global slowdown in economic growth. By the end of September 2022, deliveries of graphic grades had decreased by 10.1% whilst deliveries of packaging grades slightly decreased by 1%.
Exports decreased by 13.3% by the end of September 2022, recording a huge decline in almost all regions: European neighbouring countries -10.5%, North America -2.0%, Latin America -8.9%, Asia -27.9%, and other countries of the world -9.7%. In terms of market share, other European countries remain the main markets for exports with 38.1% of total European exports; Asia accounts for 20.3%, North America 15.0%, Latin America 9.8%, and all other countries 16.8%.
The EU economy is now forecast to grow by 0.8% in 2023 and by 1.6% in 2024.