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Report: U.S. production of containerboard, boxboard down in May

June 25, 2019  By P&PC Staff/AF&PA

June 25, 2019 – The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has released its monthly reports on containerboard, boxboard, packaging and specialty papers, and printing-writing grades for May 2019, citing decreases in production and/or shipments across all categories. 

Containerboard production in May 2019 decreased six per cent compared to May 2018 and was down 4.5 per cent year-to-date. The average daily production compared to April 2019 was 0.9 per cent higher. The containerboard operating rate increased slightly from 91.5 per cent in April to 91.9 per cent, as the total linerboard rate rose above 90 per cent for the first time since January.

In spite of the bounce-back in the last couple of months, the May operating rate was 6.7 points lower than the same month last year and the year-to-date operating rate was down six points compared to last year. Production for export, most of which is liner, was down nearly 18 per cent year-over-year and nearly 20 per cent year-to-date.


Total boxboard monthly production decreased 4.6 per cent when compared to May 2018. The total boxboard operating rate was 91.1 percent for May.

Total solid bleached boxboard and liner production was up 0.2 per cent year to date; recycled boxboard production rose 0.2 per cent year to date; and unbleached kraft and gypsum declined 1.2 per cent year to date.

Packaging papers & specialty packaging
Total packaging papers shipments were down 7.2 per cent from May 2018 and down 2.4 per cent year-to-date. Bag and sack shipments were down 0.6 per cent year to date; multiwall shipments were down 7.5 per cent; food wrapping shipments were essentially flat; and converting shipments were down 2.8 per cent.

The operating rate for May decreased to 85.2 per cent compared to 88.4 per cent in April. Inventory levels decreased 2.3 per cent from April.

Printing-writing papers
Total printing-writing paper shipments decreased 11 per cent in May compared to May 2018. U.S. purchases of total printing-writing papers declined eight per cent in May compared to the same month last year. Total printing-writing paper inventory levels increased one per cent from April 2019.

U.S. shipments of uncoated free sheet (UFS) paper decreased 13 per cent in May from the same month one year ago. The inventory level of UFS papers increased two per cent in May compared to April. UFS imports in April 2019 increased 39 per cent year over year while exports decreased 29 per cent.

U.S. purchases of coated free sheet (CFS) papers decreased five per cent in May when compared to May 2018. Inventories decreased two per cent compared to last month. Imports of CFS papers in April 2019 increased six per cent while exports decreased 10 per cent.

U.S. shipments of coated mechanical (CM) papers decreased four per cent year-over-year in May. U.S. purchases of uncoated mechanical (UM) paper decreased 10 per cent in May. Inventory levels at the end of May when compared to April increased for CM and decreased for UM, both by three per cent. Both imports and exports of CM increased year over year in April, while UM imports and exports were both up.

The complete reports with detailed tables, charts and historical data can be purchased via Statistics_Publications@afandpa.org or by calling 202-463-4716.

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