After a slight slump in ordering since the end of February, Polish corrugated board producers are looking ahead to the next few months with mixed feelings.
The lull on the Polish corrugated board market that had followed a very strong start to the year lasted two to three weeks, industry representatives said. Order intake has since recovered again. Lead times have reportedly also become a little longer. Insiders did not know why this temporary and Poland-specific slowdown happened. It might be that buyers had sourced packaging back in January and February as Easter fell comparatively early this year.
Not all sources from the corrugated sector were pleased with capacity utilisation in the first quarter. A few companies cut back shifts and several machines were offline for Easter. One market observer said that the situation was no cause for concern. The Polish corrugated case material sector would remain comparatively positive in 2013, this contact believed, adding that it might even see slight growth again.
This optimism is also reflected in investment activity within the industry. Poland is number two on the list of most attractive locations for direct investment, just after Germany. Schumacher Packaging recently announced two projects at its Polish sites. The company is planning to install a new corrugated board mill in Bukowiec and modernise its Grudziądz mill. Werner Kenkel also intends to commission its third corrugated packaging mill in Poland in the second half of this year and will start up a new corrugated board mill there by mid-2015.
Polish corrugated board packaging manufacturers took varied approaches when it came to passing on rising corrugated case material costs in the first quarter. One stakeholder said that corrugated packaging prices only edged higher in the rarest of cases. Prices had previously held steady despite paper prices having fallen since autumn 2012, thus limiting the amount of suffering. Market observers said that raising prices throughout the market was troubling right now because a turnaround in corrugated case material prices might materialise as soon as May. Packaging prices would then have to be adjusted, but this time in the opposite direction, they noted.