August U.S. paper and paperboard production falls by 3.0% from year ago, increases by 1.2% from July: AF&PA

LOS ANGELES , September 30, 2011 () – U.S. paper and paperboard production dropped in August by 215,000 tons, or 3.0%, compared to August 2010, to a total of 7.032 million tons, according to data released today by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).

The August total increased by 1.2%, or 84,000 tons over July, for the fourth straight month-over-month rise.

The year-to-date total of 54.617 million tons was 772,000 tons, or 1.4%, below that of the first eight months of 2010. The paper and paperboard operating rate so far this year was 91.3%, the same as the year-ago period.

The August 2011 operating rate of paper and paperboard was 92.3%, compared to 93.9% in August 2010 and 91.3% in July.

The total production of paperboard in August was 4.100 million tons on an operating rate of 95.5%. This was down 1.8% from 2010’s 4.175 million tons, when the rate was 97.4%. It was down 0.5% from July’s 4.120 million tons. The year-to-date production of 31.737 million tons rose by 0.3% over August 2010 and in both cases, the operating rate was 94.3%.

The production of paper in August was 2.932 million tons on an operating rate of 88.2%. This dropped by 4.6% year-over-year but rose by 3.7% month-over-month. The January-through-August total output of 22.881 million tons fell by 3.6% from the year-ago period; the operating rate was 87.6% in both cases.

Paper sector. In August, printing and writing paper production totaled 1.678 million tons, down 6.6% year-over-year but up 6.9% month-over-month. The year-to-date production of 12.977 million tons was down 5.4%.

Production in the four printing and writing sectors dropped again compared to the year-ago month but there were some month-over-month gains. In August 2011, compared to August 2010, the figures were as follows: uncoated mechanical paper (144,000 tons), for a 25.5% decrease; coated freesheet (363,000 tons), down 4.0%, coated mechanical (297,000 tons), falling by 6.7%, and uncoated freesheet (810,000 tons), dropping by 2.9%. The respective month-over-month differences were -7.1%, 12.0%, 10.8%, 6.7%.

Printing and writing paper mill inventories of 1.650 million tons fell by 3.9% over July 2011 and grew by 0.2% over August 2010.

Newsprint production in August of 264,000 tons fell by 4.0% year-over-year and by 6.7% month-over-month. Year-to-date production was 2.200 million tons, down 2.2% from the year-ago period.

The August 2011 tissue production was 626,000 tons, up 0.1% year-over-year and by up 1.0% from July. The cumulative total was 4.858 million tons fell by 1.0%.

Total packaging and other paper production of 364,000 tons fell by 3.1% year-over-year but rose by 2.2% month-over-month. The year-to-date total of 2.846 million tons fell by 0.2%.

In this category, production of unbleached kraft papers totaled 119,000 tons, for an 8.3% year-over-year decrease but a 5.3% month-over-month increase. The production of bleached kraft papers was 21,000 tons, up 3,000 tons from August 2010 and up 2,000 tons from July 2011. The “specialty packaging and other” sector produced 224,000 tons in August, higher by 4,000 tons year-over-year and unchanged from July.

Paperboard sector. In August, U.S. containerboard production was 2.947 million tons, down 1.4% year-over-year but slightly higher—by 0.3%--over July. The year-to-date total of 22.604 million tons was also 0.3% ahead of the comparative period in 2010.

Linerboard production in August 2011 of 2.108 million tons fell by 1.1% from August 2010 and by 0.3% from July 2011. Year-to-date production of 16.079 million tons inched ahead by 0.2%.

Corrugating medium production of 840,000 tons was 2.2% lower than that of August 2010 and it was 0.2% below that of July 2011. Production for the first eight months of 2011 was 6.525 million tons, up 0.5%.

August containerboard inventories at mills totaled 279,000 tons, down 13.0% month-over-month and up 0.6% year-over-year.

Boxboard sector. August boxboard production was 1.153 million tons, down 2.7% year-over-year and down 0.9% month-over-month. From January through August, production reached 9.133 million tons, up 0.1% compared to the year-ago period.

Folding boxboard production was 616,000 tons, down 1.0% year-over-year and down 1.1% month-over-month. The year-to-date total of 4.821 million tons rose by 1.2%.

Recycled boxboard production of 196,000 tons rose by 2.3% year-over-year and by 1.6% month-over-month. The year-to-date figure of 1.529 million tons was unchanged from the first eight months of 2010.

“Other” boxboard production was 285,000 tons, down 4.6% year-over-year and 2.1% lower than that of July. The year-to-date total of 2.328 million tonnes fell by 1.2%.

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