The industry insights were laid out in the BIR’s recently published quarterly report, featuring updates from Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and Turkey as well as North America.
The BIR paper division’s Italian representative Simone Scaramuzzi of LCI SRL highlighted in his general overview of the European and Asian markets that there was an upward trend for paper at the end of last year with demand for finished product increasing.
However, Mr Scaramuzzi pointed out that prices quickly fell 5 to 10% in January when compared to their levels in the previous two months.
According to the BIR “weak demand and falling prices” are said to have become “part of daily life” for European companies handling high grades of paper.
In the recovered fibre market, the picture painted across Europe in 2024 was much the same as 2023 with recyclers seeing “low demand from mills and weaker collection rates”.
It added that “despite low collection volumes, strong competition from pulp is said to be making substitutes difficult to sell.”
Over in Germany, the BIR has reported that longer shutdowns over the Christmas period resulted in “an enforced price reduction on the lower grades despite resistance from sellers.”
In the UK, the BIR president Francisco Donoso of Spain has reported that recyclers in the country have seen the OCC market decrease due to inflated ocean freight rates and “rerouted ships keeping more supply within domestic markets”.
Describing the situation in Türkiye, an important market for European exporters, Ekrem Demircioglu said that the downturn in demand that the country has been experiencing since September 2022 continued throughout 2023 “particularly for brown paper mills where capacity utilisation rates decreased to 70%.”
He added that several factors had contributed to this market downturn including high inflation, high levels of foreign currency exchange and the 2023 earthquakes.
Mr Demircioglu said paper mills and recovered paper collection companies in the country have been unable to raise their sales prices despite “increasing costs and falling production volumes.”
He reports that a 20% decrease in recovered paper availability was observed in 2023 and that stocks in the country are at “minimum levels.”
Mr Demircioglu goes on to say that his predictions for the Turkish market in 2024 is “no different from 2023.”
In the US, decreasing paper supplies were behind “the January increase in Fastmarkets/RISI PPI Pulp and Paper Week prices for OCC and mixed paper. Myles Cohen on behalf of Switzerland’s Marc Ehrlich outlined that the demand for OCC, mixed paper and DLK is high across the USA.
He added that data for the first 10 months of 2023 reveal a “reduction in US recovered fibre exports to India, Indonesia, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as to Mexico.”
However, he highlighted that Malaysia and Thailand have been buying increased amounts of US material.