U.S. production of paper and paperboard drops by 2.5% in April year-over-year as operating rate falls to 89.4%; paper output decreases by 3.2%, paperboard down by 2.0%: AF&PA

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

The production of paper and paperboard dropped in April by 2.5% from that of April 2011. The operating rate fell to 89.4%, down from 92.2% in March, 92.9% in February, and 90.4% in January, as well as from April 2011’s 90.2% rate.

Total paper production dropped by 3.2% and total paperboard production decreased by 2.0%.

For the paper sector, the operating rate was 86.9%, down from 89.8% in March, 91.0% in February, and up from 87.7% in January (all three figures are revised). The April 2011 rate was 86.5%, also revised.

The year-over-year decline in paper production applied to the major printing-and-writing sectors, which fell by 5.5%, although this was improvement from March’s 10.7% drop. All of these sectors saw year-over-year declines every month from April 2011 through January 2012, while in February, all but uncoated mechanical (that is, uncoated groundwood, or UCGW) had increases year-over-year.

In April 2012, production of total coated papers fell by 1.9%, with the decreases including uncoated freesheet (UFS), of 4.4%, coated mechanical (CGW), of 4.1% and UCGW paper, of 19.2%. However, coated freesheet (CFS) moved up by 0.1%.

The sector described as “other” printing and writing papers saw a 14.6% year-over-year decline.

Production of tissue was unchanged year-over-year, while newsprint saw a 1.3% decline; in March, newsprint output increased year-over-year by 2.5%.

Total packaging and other paper production dropped by 0.1% in April-over-April. This included decreases of 2.3% for unbleached kraft papers and of 0.6% for specialty packaging and other paper, while output of bleached kraft papers rose by 21.2%.

Looking at paperboard, the operating rate in April 2012 was 91.2%, down from 94.0% in March, 94.3% in February, and 92.4% in January. The April 2011 rate was 93.0%.

Containerboard production in April 2012 was down by 1.9% year-over-year, with linerboard falling by 3.5% and corrugating medium rising by 2.2%.

Overall boxboard output fell by 2.4% year-over-year. Total folding boxboard production dropped by 4.6%. This included a decrease of 11.6% for solid bleached board and of 4.9% for recycled, but an increase of 2.2% for unbleached kraft.

Production of boxboard for liquid packaging and food service grew by 1.6%, while “other” boxboard output fell by 1.1%.

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