Flint CPS team reflects on challenging market conditions

The challenges of 2021 imposed on the ink manufacturing industry have been well documented by all major global ink manufacturers. The ink and print industries continue to face numerous challenges surrounding rapidly increasing costs, increased demand for raw materials and shortages in local and international logistics and freight.

24 Sep 2021 | By Rahul Kumar

Flint Group’s Commercial, Publication and Sheetfed (CPS) division has worked tirelessly to mitigate any negative effects on its valued customer base, continually improving internal processes and sourcing additional raw material supply to reduce the impact of these challenges on its clients.

CPS’ Global Commercial Leadership team have experienced daily the challenges faced by the market place, and commented on the impact on the various sectors within which CPS’ customers operate.

CPS’ Global Sheetfed Business Director, Nick Brannan, said, “As we approach the second stage of tightening regulations imposed by Brexit, it is likely we will continue to experience transport delays and increased regulations affecting raw materials and shipping costs across the UK and Europe.”

“Logistics have, however, been strained worldwide,” Brannan continued, “with sea freight costs having quadrupled and shipping time increasing in some cases from 3 to 8 weeks. A worldwide shortage of container availability has further exacerbated this situation. Local logistics has also been greatly affected; Covid-19 has, in some cases, caused reduction in manpower, greatly impacting the supply chain in both EMEA and North America.”

Brannan concluded that “global raw material shortages continue to be a serious concern to the industry. The environment to secure raw materials is extremely competitive, and raw material costs are showing no sign of stabilizing. Increasing costs of raw materials and logistics will be with us all for some time, and we will continue to see costs rise globally as we compete for reduced resources. As a leading supplier to the commercial and packaging print industries we will continue to endeavor to mitigate increased costs, by continuously improving our internal processes, where possible.”

David Fotheringham, Flint CPS’ business director for Web Inks EMEA commented that “over the past two years, the European Web print industry has suffered through severe contractions in demand for printed materials. Whether they be magazines, flyers or newspapers, all sectors have suffered to a greater or lesser degree. Now as we try to pull out of this situation the industry is beset by fresh challenges regarding increased distribution costs and shortages of critical materials.” Fotheringham continued, “these issues are affecting the ink manufacturing industry in parallel with our customer base as we suffer from our supplier base restructuring to meet changing demand for their products. As we approach critical times for our businesses, we are engaging with our customer base earlier than usual to share our forecasts and try to provide some certainty.”

Jean Menard, vice-president. web sales North America, also noted similarities in the North American market place. Menard stated that the “North American web printing industry has been transforming itself over the years to meet, adjust and serve well consumer behaviors. Unfortunately, the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have accelerated the contraction on the demand in different sectors of the printing industry such as; newspapers, catalogues, magazines and inserts.”

“The volume reduction in the printing sectors has a direct impact on ink manufacturing, with a continuation of increases in transporting costs and global material shortages that are unprecedented. As we are proceeding toward a timeline considered as volatile, it is essential for the sustainability of our industry we communicate in advance to our customer base any potential outcomes,” Menard concluded.

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