US output of paper and paperboard increases 0.4% year-over-year in March, on 91.1% operating rate; production drops 3.7% for paper while rising 3.2% for paperboard: AF&PA

LOS ANGELES , May 1, 2014 () – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) released its March 2014 Monthly Statistics of Paper, Paperboard & Wood Pulp today.

The total production of paper and paperboard rose 0.4% in March 2014 from March 2013, reversing four consecutive months of year-over-year decreases, which followed four straight months of increases.

The production of paper declined 3.7% year-over-year on an operating rate of 87.3% in March 2014, slightly lower than the 87.4% rate of March 2013. (Note: the February 2014 rate was revised upward to 87.9%.)

The March 2014 output of paperboard increased 3.2% year-over-year, on an operating rate of 93.7%, which was up from 92.0% in March 2013%. (Note: the January 2014 rate was revised upward, to 93.6%.)

For both paper and paperboard, the March 2014 operating rate was 91.1%, marking an increase over the 90.0% rate in March 2013. (Note: the January 2014 rate was revised again, to 90.1%.)

Paper statistics. The March 2014 production of printing and writing and related papers dropped 2.8% from March 2013 and it fell 4.9% year-to-date (Note: the original posting incorrectly said year-over-year), but a few sectors were in the positive ranks in March.

By comparison, in February 2014, only uncoated groundwood (UCGW) showed positive year-over-year results and in January 2014 all of the sectors were in negative ranks.

The UCGW sector continued to have positive results in March 2014, with its production rising 3.6%; its year-to-date increase was 2.4%. UCGW had been in positive ranks for five straight months until its decline in January 2014, then heading into positive territory again in February.

(During 2013 a few of the printing and writing and related papers sectors had year-over-year positive results off and on, but in some months, none were positive. In every month from April 2011 through January 2012, all of the printing and writing papers categories showed year-over-year declines; during 2012, there were occasional year-over-year increases for some of the categories.)

The March 2014 production of uncoated freesheet (UFS) paper, which accounted for 48.3% of the month’s output of printing and writing and related papers, had a 5.6% decrease year-over-year. For the first quarter of 2014, UFS production fell 7.3% from the first quarter of 2013. (For all of 2013, UFS output fell 1.9% from that of 2012.)

The output of total coated papers in March 2014 inched up 0.3% year-over-year but it was 3.0% lower in the first three months of this year compared to the year-ago period.

The March 2014 production of coated freesheet (CFS) papers increased 4.0% from a year ago while the March 2014 output of coated groundwood (CGW) paper decreased 4.4%. Both showed year-to-date decreases, respectively, of 0.3% and 6.6%.

March 2014 production in the small “other printing and writing papers” category—it accounted for 3.8% of the total printing-writing and related papers category during the month—sank 10.1% from March 2013 and was down 7.4% from the first three months of 2013.

Tissue paper production dropped 0.3% in March 2014 and it fell 1.4% in January through March 2014, compared to the year-ago period.

Newsprint output continued its decline, sinking 19.5% in March 2014 compared to March 2013 and falling 21.9% year-to-date.

The output of total packaging and other paper in March 2014 dropped 3.5% year-over-year and decreased 2.7% during the first three months of 2014 compared to the first three months of 2013.

Breaking out the individual packaging and other paper categories, the March 2014 production of unbleached kraft papers declined 2.8% year-over-year while increasing 0.5% cumulatively. The production of the specialty packaging and other papers sector, which accounted for 65.0% of the production in the “total packaging and other paper” category, declined 1.6% in March 2014 over March 2013, and was down 1.2% for the first three months of this year.

Production in the small bleached kraft papers sector dropped 33.4% in March 2014 and it fell 41.9% so far this year.

Paperboard statistics. In March 2014, the U.S. production of paperboard was higher year-over-year for both containerboard and boxboard, by 3.8% and 1.8%, respectively. The respective year-to-date results were also in the positive ranks, up 1.7% and 0.7%.

In the containerboard category, the March 2014 production of total linerboard, which accounted for 72.0% of containerboard output for the month, rose 4.8%, and the year-to-date increase was 2.4%.

The March 2014 production of corrugating medium increased 1.2% from a year ago and for the first quarter of 2014 it was flat compared to the first quarter of 2013.

In the boxboard category, total folding boxboard production rose 3.2% in March 2014 compared to March 2013 but dropped 1.5% during the first three months of the year.

The production of unbleached kraft boxboard increased 3.4% in March 2014 year-over-year and declined 0.5% year-to-date.

Solid bleached boxboard production grew 6.1% in March 2014 but fell 3.7% year-to-date.

Recycled boxboard output inched up 0.5% in Mach 2014, while inching down 0.5% during the first three months of 2014.

The March 2014 output of liquid packaging and food service boxboard declined 0.2% in March 2014 but was up 3.3% during the first quarter, and “other” boxboard moved up 0.8% in March and rose 2.8% cumulatively.

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