Association of the Corrugated Board Industry Moves Headquarters to Berlin

In its interim report, the VDW reports declining sales in the corrugated board industry. The energy crisis has had a considerable impact on the industry.

Dr. Oliver Wolfrum, managing director of the Association of the Corrugated Board Industry (VDW), had greatly overestimated his annual forecast for 2022, as he admitted to trade journalists on Thursday. Corrugated board sales fell 6.5 percent in the current year compared to the previous one. Wolfrum had predicted a 3.5 percent increase in December 2021. But then came the war in Ukraine and the associated energy crisis. Drastic price increases for raw materials have had a significant impact on the corrugated board industry. In the period from January to August, the working-day sales volume of the association’s members amounted to 32.759 million euros per square meter of corrugated board, which corresponds to a minus of 5.1 percent compared to the same period last year.

The average price level of corrugated base paper calculated by the VDW climbed another 11.2 percent in the second quarter of 2022 and then fell slightly by 2.9 percent through October. As a result, the average price of corrugated base paper was still 80.1 percent higher than in September 2020, the last low point of the price curve. Cost pressure had thus continued at an extremely high level. “Christmas business is definitely off for the industry this year.”

In a press release, VDW Chairman Dr. Steffen P. Würth said, “The corrugated board industry has not been able to fully utilize its existing capacities as a powerful supporter of supply chains in the year to date – although sufficient packaging material would have been available. A climate of uncertainty caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has now been going on for months, and the resulting energy crisis have generally caused demand to decrease. At the same time, adjusting our own price levels remained a challenge – as our industry was unable to pass on massive cost increases in its key raw material, paper, and in energy supply to the necessary extent to the purchasing industries.”

The association represents 32 corrugated board companies with about 100 plants in Germany, which it says account for about 80 percent of German corrugated board production. On Thursday, it was announced to the general meeting that the association’s headquarters would be moved from Darmstadt to Berlin next year. The association said it was important to be close to politicians and to make it clear to those responsible that ambitious targets set by the Packaging Ordinance should not weaken the German industry. The VDW will be housed in Berlin under the same roof as the paper industry association. Since 75 percent of paper was packaging paper, it was said, they had common interests that they would now represent more strongly together in Berlin. “We have to speak with one voice.”

In his forecast for next year, Wolfrum anticipates an upward trend, although this is not expected until the fourth quarter, by which time it is hoped that the gas and electricity price brakes will have taken effect and collective wage agreements will have been reached. In the first quarter, however, sales would still be minus 10 percent compared to the previous year. For the full year 2023, the expert expects a minus of 3.8 percent. But everyone knows ever since the world-political developments in this year, “that we don’t know a lot.”

By Anna Ntemiris