.By Jacob Smiley, President, Badger Paperboard
With 2024 quickly approaching, now is a great time to take stock of where the paperboard industry currently is and where it’s headed.
From our own research and market intelligence, I’ve compiled a list of the top trends you need to be aware of when it comes to purchasing paperboard (or any form of paper packaging) next year and beyond.
The last five years in the URB (Uncoated Recycled Board), aka chipboard, market have been some of the most volatile in the past 50 years. We have seen the market near all-time lows at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then swinging to an all-time high during the two-year “COVID rebound.”
We have now settled into another unique period. Paper mills are on the slower side, but with limited domestic capacity for producing URB/chipboard, we have seen pricing remain steady. Some other paperboard sources have seen a drop in pricing due to strong capacity and low demand, but the supply/demand in chipboard keeps the market steady.
Where some industries are down, others are up, which is keeping our business normalized. Our cornerboard, solid fiber, BadgerKrate, and AP sheet business is our focus for growth, and we continue to see year-over-year growth in these products.
You can’t help but hear about how AI is changing everything these days. In packaging, robotics are also making a big splash in how companies do business. Manufacturers are constantly investing in automation with the shrinking labor force.
One way we’re keeping up with this shift is with our Badger AP sheet. It’s a fit for many palletizing units and can help customers see cost savings on our sheet without multiple pick-ups or with no pick-ups at all. This keeps production lines moving flawlessly with a sustainable, cost-effective layer protection product.
Sustainability is another big mover in our industry. Customers desire — and are sometimes required to — have sustainable packaging that incorporates pre- or post-consumer recycled content, and can also be recycled. At Badger, we are continuously striving for a zero-waste future by helping you package products efficiently, using nearly 100% recycled paperboard, and recycling our own waste, including metals, plastics, and 100% of paper waste.
With the global supply chain disruptions we’ve experienced in the past few years, we’re seeing things return to a more normal state.
Supply is more widely available on a global level. Many Asian and European paper mills are pushing sales in the U.S. This creates competition with domestic mills and allows for more supply options for both Badger and our customers.
And, as all industries face inflation and economic uncertainty, Badger continues to invest in talented people and high-end converting equipment to stay on top of our competition.
There’s a lot on the horizon for the paperboard and packaging industry, but we’re here to help guide you through it no matter what happens.
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