Interesting things about the packaging industry, retailing dynamics, consumer trends and NOA’s insight.

Sausages do not grow on trees! But are they linked to the global kraft paper shortage?

Nov 2, 2017 | Fun

The UK Sheet Plant Association Conference was told recently that corrugated case materials supply is “tight”, “challenged” and the “availability is no longer a given”. Moreover, this global kraft paper deficit looks set to continue into 2018 and beyond.

The latest market research carried out by the team here at NOA, on the effect of the internet and new generation retailing on the European corrugated packaging market, concurs: unbleached kraft production is close to capacity, globally.

This shortage can be attributed to a number of factors, including two recent major paper mill fires, the North American packaging market growing at more than 1% per annum above its capacity to produce materials and a global reticence for investment in new Kraft mill capacity. The paper packaging industry agrees that extra paper making capacity needs to come on board in 2018.

So what has this to do with sausages, we hear you ask?

Sausages and the global kraft paper shortage

It must be stated in advance that the link between sausages and the shortage is highly suspect, Friday afternoon speculation, and totally unverified by NOA management. But nonetheless, it’s an interesting theory, and it’s this: the global increase in the processed meat market has had a significant effect on the production of kraft paper and indeed could be contributing to the current shortage. Here’s the ‘evidence’:

1. The global processed meat market is growing at a CAGR of around 14%

2. Cellulose is a (relatively) cheap product used to fill and bind processed meat products
3. Cellulose is derived from virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to a form deemed safe for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration

4. Virgin wood pulp which could be used in kraft paper production is now filling our processed meat products instead
5. The kraft paper capacity we need for packaging is hiding in our meat products – therefore sausages are being made from trees !

According to LovePork, which promotes pig farming, in the UK alone 1.26 billion meals containing sausage are eaten in the home each year. We love our sausages, we’re eating more sausages, more kraft paper is needed to make the sausages … you get the picture.

As far-fetched as it sounds, this is a real concern for some parties in the paper industry – A European paper merchant recently voiced his worries to NOA researchers, regarding sausage production practices and the shortage of wood pulp for paper packaging.

On the face of it, cellulose is being used more and more in the production of processed foods, often those that are labeled as reduced-fat or high fibre, such as tomato sauce, salad dressing, ice cream bars, wholemeal bread, granola bars, biscuits, bagels, breakfast cereal, veggie burgers, cake mixes, frozen filled pasta, tortillas, frozen pizza, soured cream, cheese spread, dried soup mix and sorbet… that is some list!

So check out your fridge and food cupboards the next time you happen to be in there – that ‘kraft wood pulp-eating’ cellulose may be lurking in your kitchen.

NOA delivers in-depth research and reports into paper and packaging trends, including paper shortages. If you would like more information, please get in touch.