Metal Bulletin Research alerted Hotline to an interesting quirk in South America’s aluminium foil market last week.

At about 0.55 kg per capita, Paraguay’s consumption of foil is roughly double the rate of the rest of South America, even though, as a relatively less-developed country, lower consumption would be expected.

Its foil imports figures are also very high for a country of its size and development level, at 3,500 tpy.

“It now seems that the explanation lies in the massive production of cigarettes – much of which is reported to be illegally smuggled into neighbouring Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia,” MBR said.

Paraguay’s official imports of tobacco, at about 40,000 tpy, are calculated to produce approximately 60 billion cigarettes. But in a 2009 study funded by Bloomberg it was found that Paraguay’s production of cigarettes is closer to 150 billion per year.

MBR calculates that packaging for these would use around 3,600 tonnes of aluminium foil, which is close to Paraguay’s official foil import figure of 3,500 tpy, and would equate to about 0.54 kg for every person in the country.