Corrugated boxes: IP, PCA said to set 9% box price increases; IP rise is to be effective Nov. 9, PCA’s Nov. 1

SAN FRANCISCO, 9 October 2020 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) – Four of the largest six North American containerboard and corrugated box companies were said to be out with early November price increases of 8-11% for corrugated boxes sheets, industry contacts told Fastmarkets RISI’s PPI Pulp & Paper Week as of Oct. 7.

The largest three producers, International Paper (IP), WestRock, Packaging Corp of America (PCA), planned 9% on boxes and 11% on sheets, effective in early November. The IP increases are for Nov. 9, and WestRock and PCA’s are effective Nov. 1.

Cascades, the sixth largest US boxmaker, announced a minimum 8% increase for its boxes, effective Nov. 1.

These were announced alongside or on the heels of a $50/ton containerboard price rise effective Nov. 1 from North America’s largest six producers.

“We’re seeing an adjustment [with higher demand than expected] on top of the holiday season” pickup as well, one boxmaker told P&PW.

Fastmarkets RISI packaging marketing VP and economist Ken Waghorne this week told of a shift in US consumer spending, with less spending on services and more on goods. This includes a big e-commerce boost with workers at home receiving home delivered food and consumer products, said Waghorne, who has reported on packaging since 1983.

US actual box shipments for June through August were the second highest three-months of shipments since 1990, based on P&PW research. A combination of a surge in deliveries as US states started reopening locked down businesses in May and a seasonal pickup in holiday demand sparked the increased box demand.

“It’s just a wild time,” the boxmaker said.

The containerboard increase for the North American domestic open market is the first one in more than two years, and follows a decline in linerboard prices of $40/ton from March 2019 through January 2020, according to P&PW’s price survey.