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Paper Industry in Austria

Austrian Paper Industry © ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA

© ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA

June 21, 2010

Review – Trends – Perspectives

The Austrian paper journal Papier aus Österreich, published by The Austrian Paper Association Austropapier reports on the state of the Austrian paper industry:

Review

The year 2009 saw the most severe economic crisis for decades. The slump began in November 2008 and led to lower paper consumption and prices. By the middle of the year the price of raw materials had begun rising again. In total, production dropped by 10.6 per cent and sales by 16 per cent in 2009. The results varied widely depending on the type of product. In order to reduce costs, some paper machines were down for weeks, which of course had a negative impact on the utilization, productivity and energy efficiency of the plants. In 2009 several companies with production sites in Austria reported losses.

Production trends

The sharp drop in economic activity in the first half of the year resulted in a decline in paper production of around 20 per cent. The situation stabilized somewhat in the second half of the year so that total annual production amounted to 4.6 million tons of pulp, paper and board. That represents a decline of 10.6 per cent compared to 2008. Two of the largest production areas, namely coated fine paper and newsprint, were hit particularly hard. In all, production of paper for use in graphics declined by 17 per cent while packaging papers dropped by only 1.6 per cent. Thus far, carton, magazine paper and recycled corrugated board paper have survived the crisis relatively unscathed. Nevertheless, the chemical pulp price for NBSK, the industry’s benchmark grade of pulp, abruptly rose in the second half of the year to more than 800 US dollars. This unfavorable combination was sharply felt by the paper industry in Austria.

Perspectives

In 2010 Austrian paper production will decline for the fourth year in a row. The global competitive strength of the Austrian paper industry is threatened in particular by new competitors from China, India and Brazil as well as by the ambitious but often one-sided goals of European climate and energy policies. However, if the industry is able to reorient and take better advantage of its green potential, it will be able to show the environmentally friendly position of paper compared with the electronic media and packaging based on synthetic materials as well as demonstrate the clear added value of wood as a raw material in promoting growth and employment compared with its use solely as a source of energy.

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