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Consumption ahead on last year - but only just

At this years mid-point, consumption of recovered paper by UK mills was slightly ahead of the total for the first half of 2003. Mill intake was also marginally higher at the half-way stage although UK paper and board production showed a modest decline despite a positive performance in June.

Recovered paper consumption in June this year reached 383,132 tonnes a full 8% above the total of 354,778 tonnes registered in the corresponding month of 2003. A 14.2% fall in consumption of Class I mixed grades to 24,849 tonnes was offset easily by the whopping 30.1% improvement in the total for Class III newspapers and magazines from 92,908 tonnes to 120,910 tonnes.

Class II corrugated and kraft and Class IV high grades recorded far less dramatic consumption increases in June: the total for the former of 180,094 tonnes was 2.3% ahead of the 176,006 tonnes recorded in the same month last year; while the 57,279 tonnes of high grades consumed in June 2004 was a mere 0.7% up on the June 2003 total of 56,901 tonnes.

Roll all of these statistics together and we end up with a UK mill consumption total of 2,288,000 tonnes for the first six months of 2004 just over 6,000 tonnes or 0.3% more than in the corresponding period of 2003. Taking the first half of the year as a whole, consumption of newspapers and magazines was 22% higher in 2004 at 726,990 tonnes whereas all the other classes of recovered paper showed marked declines. In percentage terms, the most significant of these was the 11.6% drop in mixed grades consumption from 171,107 tonnes to 151,222 tonnes. Consumption of high grades fell by 7.2% to 356,964 tonnes while the total for corrugated and kraft was 6.9% lower in the first half of 2004 at 1,053,000 tonnes.

Mill intake in the first half of the year reached 2,303,000 tonnes, some 1.2% above the total for the corresponding period of 2003. Once again, newspapers and magazines led the way with an intake of 735,122 tonnes, a sizeable 18.8% more than the 618,643 tonnes reported for the first six months of last year. For all the other classes of recovered paper, intake levels declined during the first half of 2004 mixed grades by 8.5%, corrugated and kraft 5.9%, and high grades 2.6%.

Looking at the statistics for June in isolation, UK recovered paper intake advanced 7% from last years level of 370,450 tonnes to 396,266 tonnes. The monthly total for newspapers and magazines leapt 37.7% to 131,157 tonnes from the 95,229 tonnes recorded in June 2003, while intake of high grades increased by a more conservative 1% to 60,051 tonnes. By contrast, the other two classes of recovered paper experienced intake declines in June this year: the corrugated and kraft total was 2.7% lower while intake of mixed grades slumped 19%.

A similar split emerged in mill stock statistics for June this year. Newspapers and magazines and high grades saw inventory levels increase during the month by, respectively, 15.5% and 5.2%. These gains all but offset the stock declines recorded in May this year. By the end of June, mill stocks of newspapers and magazines equated to 2.1 weeks at the prevailing rate of usage compared with 1.8 weeks at the end of May, while supply of high grades edged up from 2.2 to 2.3 weeks.

An 8% drop in the mixed grades inventory during June left only 4,977 tonnes or 0.9 weeks supply at the prevailing rate of usage compared with exactly one week at the end of the previous month. The corrugated and kraft inventory dipped by 2.9% to 57,565 tonnes to bring about a reduction in supply from 1.5 weeks at the end of May to 1.4 weeks a month later.

Taking the four classes of recovered paper as a whole, mill stocks followed up an 8.4% decline in May with a 5.1% improvement the following month. As an average, however, supply remained unaltered at 1.7 weeks. Comparing inventory levels at the mid-points of both 2003 and 2004, stocks were 18.1% higher than the 129,332 tonnes registered at the end of June 2003.

Despite a 1.7% increase in UK paper and board production in June 2004, t

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