Once again, the consumption boost owed a huge debt to the performance of Class III newspapers and magazines, which posted a thumping 25% increase in April to 114,229 tonnes and thereby maintained the strong momentum established in the first quarter. By the end of the fourth month, 2004 consumption of newspapers and magazines was running 20.4% ahead of that recorded in the same period last year at 477,500 tonnes.
The only other consumption climber in April was Class II corrugated and kraft whose total for the month of 190,584 tonnes represented an increase of 1.1% over the previous year. However, this improvement failed to overturn a poor first quarter: consumption in the first four months of 2004 as a whole was 6.9% down on last year at 698,032 tonnes.
Latest April consumption statistics for Class I mixed grades and Class IV high grades both suffered in comparison with 2003 totals: the former witnessed a decline of 1.9% to 24,599 tonnes while the latter dropped 9.6% to 56,638 tonnes.
Newspapers and magazines also take a huge slice of the credit for an April increase in mill intake, although rises were recorded by all four classes of recovered paper. The newspapers and magazines total of 125,289 tonnes was 24.3% ahead of that for April 2003, while intake of high grades, mixed grades and corrugated and kraft advanced by 3.7%, 3.4% and 2.3%, respectively.
Taking the first four months of the year as a whole, however, newspapers and magazines were alone in recording higher intake than in the corresponding period of 2003 jumping 19.3% to 487,531 tonnes. Intake of corrugated and kraft was 3.8% lower in JanuaryApril 2004 at 691,651 tonnes, while mixed and high grades fell 1.0% and 0.7%, respectively. Rolling these figures together gives a total intake figure for the opening four months of 2004 of 1,533,000 tonnes 3.3% up on last year.
For the second consecutive month, Class II corrugated and kraft was alone in posting a stock decline in April. The slight 0.3% dip in March preceded a far steeper 10.9% drop to 60,450 tonnes the following month, to leave supply at 1.4 weeks at the end of April compared with 1.8 weeks one month earlier.
Reasonably strong inventory gains elsewhere were led by the 21% improvement in stocks of newspapers and magazines to 60,990 tonnes; this pushed supply to 2.3 weeks compared with 1.8 weeks at the end of March. A 19.9% jump in stocks of mixed grades to 5,911 tonnes returned supply to the one-week level after having stood at 0.9 weeks in March and at only 0.6 weeks in February. The 5% increase in the high grades inventory to 31,297 tonnes carried supply from 2.1 to 2.4 weeks.
Taking all the grades together, stocks followed up a 6.4% increase in March by rising a further 3.7% in April to 158,648 tonnes, although the supply average remained unaltered at 1.8 weeks. Compared with exactly one year earlier, stocks of all grades were considerably higher at the end of April 2004: the newspapers and magazines inventory, for example, was 94.1% larger than last year while high grade stocks were up by 76.4%.
By the end of April, UK production of paper and board was running virtually 20,000 tonnes behind the total posted by the same stage in 2003. Even an almost 400% increase in uncoated mechanical production during April failed to prevent a 2.3% fall in overall monthly production to 508,071 tonnes. This contributed to a total of 2,072,000 tonnes for the first four months of this year 0.9% below the 2,091,000 tonnes recorded in JanuaryApril 2003.
Naturally, the jump in uncoated mechanical production by 386.7% to 584 tonnes was the most eye catching of the latest statistics.