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Many businesses are feeling the impact of nationwide cardboard shortages. Many businesses are finding it challenging to locate corrugated packaging. Even major news agencies including the  BBCThe Telegraph and The Daily Mail, have recently begun to emphasise the UK’s present cardboard crisis.

While the packaging industry has been fully aware of this impending problem since well before the Christmas period, the issue is only now getting attention due to its impact on consumers and businesses of all sizes. What is the source of this? Is there hope at the end of the tunnel? In this article, we will attempt to cover and explain the following topics:

  • What precisely is going on with the supply of paper and cardboard?
  • Is there something driving the scarcity?
  • What this means for your packaging
  • Is there anything you can do to reduce the effects of this?

The Current State of Affairs

How severe are cardboard shortages in the United Kingdom?

While it has been going on for a while – as far back as October of last year – the issue of paper shortages and the resultant rises in the cost of both corrugated cardboard material and the packaging made from it has only just come to public attention.

Even the BBC has covered the issue, highlighting a number of small and medium-sized enterprises who have been failing to acquire their packaging – and as a result, have disappointed consumers.

As a result, businesses of all sizes struggle to locate a supplier with short enough lead times to satisfy their needs. In contrast, many others who can obtain their boxes come against simply not having enough boxes.

Consequences of Packaging Shortages

How will packaging shortages influence business?

For many, the inability to get a cardboard supply simply means that business can not run smoothly.

For others, it might mean disappointing consumers with longer delivery delays or, in the worst-case scenario, not being able to fulfil orders at all.

However, so many sales are shifting online due to the pandemic and general changes in consumer spending habits. Everything from house plants to bikes, clothes, wine, and more are being purchased directly from company websites, meaning that more and more businesses are facing similar issues.

What is the source of the cardboard shortage?

Simply put, a perfect storm of causes has resulted in the present cardboard crisis. For example, according to the  Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI), demand for cardboard boxes from online merchants was five years ahead of where it was predicted to be before the pandemic. However, this is only one of several forces at work.

Increase in eCommerce and Online Ordering

The most likely cause of shortages is a massive rise in demand. People sometimes refer to cardboard as “beige gold” in some circles. While the transition to online shopping has led to a steady increase in demand for corrugated e-commerce packaging over the previous 4 – 5 years, the coronavirus pandemic has further accelerated this. To put this in context, Royal Mail estimates that about 200 million extra items were delivered through their own and other courier networks in 2020.

Make sure to tune into part 2 of “Navigating the board supply crisis” to learn more about the current cardboard supply crisis. In the next instalment, we will look further into what is causing the cardboard shortages. 

We manufacture plain and printed cardboard packaging. No quantity is too small or too large for Tams Packaging. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.