U.S. Corrugated Sales Picking Up Slowly, But Demand Erratic

Modest Growth Reflects Consumer Products Rebound;
Packaging Demand Volatile; Inventories Still Lean

U.S. sales of corrugated cardboard packaging rose slightly in the first two months of 2013, but were followed by a decline in March.

April 12, 2013 - U.S. sales of corrugated cardboard packaging picked up in the first quarter of 2013 but are growing slowly, reflecting moderate and inconsistent demand for the consumer products that they contain, industry executives said.

Corrugated manufacturers in Texas, Wisconsin and Philadelphia said orders are growing steadily, particularly from the food & beverage and pharmaceuticals industries, and that demand appears to be stronger than it was in the fourth quarter of 2012.

A trade association reported growing sales in the first two months of the year, followed by a decline in March.

But one production measure of containerboard — the kind of paper used for making corrugated — suggested volatile demand and uncertainty about the strength of the economic recovery.

"I would not say that we are seeing a strong upturn in orders," said Jana Harris, president of Harris Packaging Corp., a maker of corrugated and folding-carton packaging in Fort Worth, Texas. "We are not convinced that the economic recovery is well established. It is improving but not at a rate that would make us feel comfortable enough to say that it has turned around."

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SOURCE: MNI (a provider of news and intelligence)