The substantial increase in e-commerce, coupled with the low global production of cardboard, increased the price of this material in Mexico, which was reflected in an increase of between 10 and 15 percent in the cost of packaging for Mexican companies. In an interview with El Financiero, Hiram Cruz, general director of the Mexican Packaging Association (AMEE), said that they even had to look for new suppliers in other countries - since they are normally imported from the United States - or develop them in Mexico, as domestic production and imports were insufficient to meet demand.
"The pandemic has been affecting the supply of cardboard. This is the result of the increase in e-commerce activity of up to 80 percent, together with the fact that China is hoarding secondary raw materials to manufacture it, such as recycled cardboard, and this was combined with the suspension of activities of logistics companies due to the pandemic, which generated a shortage and an increase of 10 to 15 percent in the cost of cardboard," said the industrial representative.
Information from the Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes de Cajas y Empaque de Cartón Corrugado y Fibra Sólida (ANFEC) indicates that in 2020 there was a deficit of 150 thousand tons of unsatisfied demand for cardboard, due to low production and the fact that demand continued to grow at an accelerated rate.
"During 2020 an increase in the price of paper was experienced and companies such as FedEx and UPS tripled their demand. The change in the population's habits due to SARS-CoV-2 generated an additional degree of demand for short- and medium-term consumer goods that travel in paperboard," said Sergio Farfán, ANFEC's CEO.
In 2020, 2.8 million tons of corrugated cardboard boxes were produced in Mexico, 2.5 percent lower than what was recorded during 2019, while micro corrugated fell 1.2 and folding cartons fell 3 percent, INEGI data show. This was due to the suspension of non-essential activities, as there was an increase in production as economic recovery took place. Last year, Mexico imported 395,769 tons of cardboard boxes, a reduction of 5.6 percent annually, according to data from the Ministry of Economy.
For this year, the director of ANFEC anticipated that production will continue to fall due to gas cuts, the lack of paper to manufacture them and because the deficit in imports of inputs continues. In January 2021, compared to the same month last year, corrugated box production increased 1.1 percent, but fell 8.2 and 4.2 percent in micro corrugated and folding cartons, respectively, according to INEGI.