Newsprint price spike threatens country papers

Friday 6 May 2022

Price hikes slated to hit regional newspapers on July 1 from Australia’s sole remaining newsprint plant are worse than the industry has feared, with some publishers reporting price jumps of 80 per cent over previous rates and orders going only half filled.

Regional media representatives have asked the federal government for rapid help, fearing the cost rises could result in newsroom closures. Norwegian paper giant Norske Skog has closed its New Zealand and Albury mills in recent years because of a long-term decline in demand for newsprint, leaving only its Boyer facility in northern Tasmania making that type of paper in the region.

But demand for paper is now outstripping limited supply as Australia recovers from the pandemic. International options are limited. Another major global wood products company, Finland’s UPM, is facing a crippling strike that has lasted about four months. Russia, a major supplier of wood, is under sanctions because of its invasion of Ukraine. And freight from Asian paper supplies has become more costly as a result of the global supply chain crunch.

Andrew Manuel, the president of Country Press Australia, which is an industry association representing 190 regional papers, said some of his members had been told prices would rise by as much as 80 per cent and reported being unable to secure more than half of what they had ordered.

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Source: SMH

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