U.S. production of paper and paperboard falls by 2.3% in March year-over-year on operating rate of 92.2%, as paper output drops by 6.2%, paperboard rises by 0.7%: AF&PA

LOS ANGELES , April 29, 2012 () – The American Forest & Paper Association released its March 2012 Monthly Statistics of Paper, Paperboard & Wood Pulp on April 27.

In March 2012, the production of paper and paperboard decreased by 2.3% from that of March 2011. The operating rate was 92.2%, down from 92.7%. This compares with 90.3% in January and 87.9% in December. (The figures for all previous months are revised.) In March 2011 the operating rate was 92.6%

In March 2012, the production of paper fell by 6.2% year-over-year. The operating rate was 89.7%, down from 90.6% from February, and compared with 87.5% in January and 85.2% in December (all of these percentages are revised.) In March 2011, it was 92.1%.

The year-over-year decline in paper production applied to the major printing-and-writing sectors, which were down by 10.7%, including uncoated freesheet (UFS), down 7.7%, coated freesheet (CFS), down 10.7%, coated mechanical (that is, coated groundwood, or CGW), down 17.6% and uncoated mechanical (UCGW) paper, down 17.5%. By contrast, all but the last sector had increases year-over-year in February. And all of these sectors saw year-over-year declines every month from April 2011 through January 2012.

Other printing and writing papers had a 3.6% increase year-over-year.

Tissue saw a 0.1% production increase and newsprint output increased by 2.5%. In contrast, both sectors declined year-over-year in January, by 0.8% and 15.0%, respectively, and in February, newsprint declined by 6.6%, while tissue output rose by 6.6%.

In March, year-over-year production of unbleached kraft papers decreased by 9.1% while bleached kraft papers increased by 31.0%. The output of specialty packaging and other rose by 0.2%.

In March 2012, paperboard output increased by 0.7% from a year ago. The paperboard operating rate was 94.0%, down from February’s (revised) 94.3%, but up from January’s 92.4% rate (revised) as well as March 2011’s 93.0% rate.

March output of containerboard rose by 2.5%, compared to February’s increase of 6.0% and January’s 0.5% decline, with linerboard was up by 2.3% and corrugating medium rose by 2.8%.

Year-over-year, boxboard production fell by 3.6% in March after rising by 2.0% in February year-over-year and falling in January by 4.3% year-over-year. In March, the year-over-year outputs decreased for total folding boxboard by 3.6%, for liquid packaging and food service by 6.0%, and for other boxboard by 1.2%.

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