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Feature: Paper consumption dips in February

Following a positive start to the year, the January gains in UK consumption of recovered paper were virtually wiped out in February, according to latest statistics from the Confederation of Paper Industries. The figures also told of a dip in UK paper and board production to 477,382 tonnes in February, down 5.3% on the same month last year.

Recovered paper consumption had been 2.6% higher in January than in the first month of 2004, but comparative February totals revealed a decline of 2.3% to 360,612 tonnes this year. As a result, aggregate consumption in January-February 2005 was 755,218 tonnes, a slender 0.2% ahead of the 753,662 tonnes recorded in the corresponding period of last year.

There was even a drop in consumption of Class III newspapers and magazines during February. The total of 117,108 tonnes was 0.7% below the 117,895 tonnes recorded in the same month last year, although the cumulative total for the first two months of this year

was 2.6% ahead of the 2004 figure at 247,649 tonnes. Consumption of mixed grades fell 1.2% in February to 26,691 tonnes, although the combined figure for January-February 2005 remained 0.6% ahead of last year at 53,767 tonnes.

Decline

Alone in posting a decline in consumption after the first two months of 2005 was Class II corrugated and kraft. Following a 5% slide in February to 158,033 tonnes, the cumulative total was left 1.9% behind that of the

previous year at 332,533 tonnes. By contrast, consumption of Class IV high grades improved in February - by 1.6% to 58,780 tonnes - to keep the cumulative total running ahead of that for 2005. Consumption in January-February 2005 climbed to 121,269 tonnes, some 1.1% up on the 119,987 tonnes registered in the same period last year.

Consumption may have fallen in February but UK mill intake of newspapers and magazines leapt 17.8% to 129,507 tonnes during the same month. Intake increases were also recorded by mixed grades and high grades: the former advanced 3.6% to 25,894 tonnes and the latter by 7.7% to 64,148 tonnes. The monthly corrugated and kraft total, however, was a full 9.7% below that of February 2004 at 150,663 tonnes.

From the cumulative perspective, intake of newspapers and magazines was running 12.8% ahead of last year after two months of 2005, with the respective totals of 231,374 tonnes and 261,044 tonnes. Intake of mixed grades was 6.5% higher in the first two months of this year at 54,554 tonnes, whereas the January-February totals for high grades and corrugated and kraft showed declines on last year. The former was a marginal 0.1% lower at 124,230 tonnes while the latter fell 3.3% from 338,157 tonnes to 327,146 tonnes.

Rolling all the figures together, it emerges that UK mill intake improved by 2.5% in February this year to 370,212 tonnes, while the combined total for January and February was almost 3% higher than that for the corresponding period of 2004 at 766,974 tonnes.

The first month of 2005 had produced a fall in UK mill stocks across all four classes of recovered paper. In February, the Class I mixed grades inventory declined by a further 3% to take the total to 4830 tonnes and to reduce supply at the prevailing rate of usage from 0.8 to 0.7 weeks. Stocks of Class II corrugated and kraft fell by an even heavier 11.9% to 61,284 tonnes to push down supply from 1.8 weeks at the end of January to 1.6 weeks a month later.

By contrast, mill stocks of Class IV high grades more than offset a 16.2% decline in January by surging 20% during the following month to 26,016 tonnes, thereby increasing supp

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