How Supply Chain Issues can Affect your Commercial Printing Projects

We’ve all heard the term over and over in the past two years. “Supply chain issues” encompass nearly every part of our society — lack of car parts, housing supplies, medicine and even baby formula availability.

Unfortunately, the commercial printing industry hasn’t evaded those setbacks. Amongst all the resources that commercial printers need to produce projects, paper is central.

Cyclical ups and downs of paper supplies have been part of the printing industry for years. However, according  to industry expert, Marco Boer, VP of I.T. Strategies, since 2012, writing and printing paper supplies have consistently slipped 3% a year. Add the pandemic’s affects to the formula and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.

Paper mills had struggled before the pandemic, due to major imports of paper. This was great for commercial printers, as prices for paper dropped, but disastrous for small mills who couldn’t compete against larger suppliers. The squeeze accelerated across the country in 2019 when demand for product slowed dramatically. Not only did work have to stop during the shutdown, but employee shortages due to layoffs and illness also left mills scrambling to keep even reduced production going. Many commercial clients turned to digital marketing and communication, further affecting paper mills’ bottom lines.

So today, while paper mills struggle, commercial printers are left to find creative ways to help serve their clients. The good news is that, although paper supplies are limited, they are available.

Some printing shops have been able to creatively find new avenues for paper. It might be buying in bulk or finding new outlets. Some printers have changed the way they help clients prepare jobs. Different weights and types of paper can be substituted to create jobs with a new look. Offering design options can re-imagine a final project.

This challenge for printers is one that will change the business. Those companies who are nimble and creative enough to pivot to reliable options will be the ones who make up the industry going forward.

The question is, how does your commercial printer stack up? You should be able to ask how they are adapting to today’s challenges. If they don’t have a plan for this new era, maybe it’s time to shop for a new commercial printing partner.


Do you have questions about producing printed marketing materials, books and brochures or annual reports? Contact Catalyst Graphics to learn how we can help you produce the highest quality printing job!

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