Printers mark 22 March as Black Day to protest price rise

The All-Indian Federation of Master Printers, the apex body of Indian printers, has decided to take a firm stand against the constant rise of raw material prices, including paper and consumables. Accordingly, the printers’ body will observe Monday, 22 March 2021, as a Black Day, and printers across the country will wear black ribbons to mark their protest.

21 Mar 2021 | By PrintWeek Team

The decision took place during an emergency meeting with the presidents of all affiliate associations of the AIFMP on 17 March 2021.

“If the miseries of the printers still go noticed, the printers of India will go for a strike,” GN Visvakumar, honourary general secretary, AIFMP, said.

The printers have been facing the crisis at a time when they are ready to leave behind the loss incurred during the lockdown which started on 24 March 2020. This uncertain market behaviour regarding the pricing of raw materials started in October 2020. Today, not only the price but even the availability of paper and board is a huge challenge.

According to AIFMP, this may even be a bigger blow for the printers than Covid-19. The escalation of price of paper by the paper mills is the major hurdle while consumbles industries are not willing to pass on the cost has made printing unviable. The issue has become a question of survival for the printers.

Kamal Chopra, president, AIFMP, said, in local market, kraft paper, which was available at Rs 22.50 in October, now costs Rs 39.50. Duplex board meant for cardboard boxes is priced at Rs 55 per kg, which was earlier available at Rs 38.

Meanwhile, an increase of more than 40% has been noticed in white paper and art paper. The rate of art paper has increased from Rs 63 per kg to Rs 85 per kg and white printing paper is now selling at Rs 60 per kg which was earlier available at Rs 40 per kg.

“It is not just that prices have been increased abnormally; even at this increased price, the paper is not available. It looks like this unprecedented scarcity has been created only for the purpose of earning more money by increasing the rates. Otherwise, there is no reason for this kind of increase at this time,” Chopra said.

According to Minoo Davar of BMPA, paper mills in the country have exponentially increased their prices in the last five-six months. “This sudden increase in the price of the basic raw material has caught the industry unawares. Printing is an intermediary industry and most of the printers are operating in micro sectors. They are bound to abide by the contracts and tenders signed with private and various government agencies. Thus, printers are now stuck between the manufacturers who has increased the prices of the raw material without any consideration and the customers who are not willing to pay the additional costs demanded by the printers, due to the increase of raw materials. This will seriously impact the publishing and packaging Industry,” Davar added.

Ashwani Gupta, vice-president (north), AIFMPA, said, the rates are increased by the mills with immediate effect, without giving any buffer time or a notice, whereas printers are supposed to supply goods at the quoted rate calculated at the time of receiving orders. Thus, printers are suffering huge losses. The paper mills must be cautioned that such increase, if any, must be intimated at least one month in advance.

“In accordance with the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 (No 10 of 1955), 2 (a) (vii) paper, including newsprint, paperboard and straw board comes under ‘Essential Commodities.’ We feel this law is not being implemented properly. We wish that government should intervene, to oversee its strict implementation. It will help in improving the quality and the rationalisation of rates. I feel the government will take note of it and will take strenuous steps to stop stocking and artificially created scarcity and will persuade the mills to give notice before any increase in the prices,” Gupta said.

Raveendra Joshi, IPP said, “After the lockdown due to pandemic which created a havoc, things have now started improving. But the printers are facing a loss of business due to the unprecedented hike in the prices of raw materials such as paper, plates and ink.”

He said, the industry is facing a crisis as prices of raw material have shot up by 50 to 90%, threatening to turn the business unviable. In addition to the increase in paper prices, all other input cost, such as manpower, laminating film, freight and other overheads have also witnessed an increase of 60-70% in the last few years.

Price movement between October 2020 to now

1 Prices of recycled paper/board increased by Rs 10/50 per kg in absolute terms plus taxes and transportation (further Rs 8-10 per kg)

2 Prices of FBB/SBS/VAP boards increased by Rs 5/kg in absolute terms plus taxes and transportation (further Rs 5-6 per kg)

3 Kraft paper/board prices increased by Rs 14/kg in absolute terms plus taxes and transportation (same is increasing per day basis Rs 1-2)

4 Increase in inks, varnish and pressroom chemicals has increased by 7.5-10%

5 Overall hike in transportation/freight costs due to higher diesel and petrol prices by 25%

6 Added expenses for SOP due to pandemic control at factories

7 Art card/art paper/chromo paper/super fine paper/ maplitho has an increase in between range of Rs 5 to 10

8 Increase in lamination film by Rs 45/kg – and adhesives by Rs 42/kg

9 Raw materials, such as UV resins, additives and pigments, are reaching cost peaks

(Data courtesy: The Bombay Master Printers Association and The Indore Master Printers Association)