Across the nation, printers and direct mail houses are experiencing a massive paper shortage. Some stocks are simply no longer available, while others are taking much longer to be delivered. Paper that is available is dramatically rising in price. Consequently, clients who use print and direct mail are experiencing longer project production times as well as increased costs.

Like most industries, many of the supply issues facing the paper industry are caused by massive disruptions to the global supply chain during the pandemic. A decrease in domestic production, combined with a decrease in foreign supply, is causing a struggle to stock the shelves.

Domestically, US mills simply cannot keep up with the demand for paper. We saw this issue even before the pandemic, when mills were shifting away from producing print paper and were instead focusing on more profitable materials such as packaging and brown paper. But during the pandemic, printing paper production stopped almost completely.

With demand coming back abruptly in 2021, mills do not have the capacity to restart production at pre-pandemic levels. There isn’t enough raw wood material, and there aren’t enough hands to run the machines. It is also taking time to pivot away from production of packaging and other materials, back to production of print paper.

Unfortunately, the print industry is not able to supplement the lack of supply with foreign shipments as it has done in the past. Shipments from Asia are the lowest they’ve been in 20 years. This is caused by an increase in shipping costs, which have more than tripled since 2020. Several explosions and cyber attacks on Asian manufacturing plants in late 2020 also caused major disruptions that have not yet been fully resolved.

This all sounds like bad news for those in print and direct mail marketing. Admittedly, these issues are serious and have disrupted productivity and increased costs. However, these issues are not insurmountable. They do not make print and direct mail marketing impossible, or any less effective. These issues are simply providing printers, mailers and marketers with an opportunity to get creative in the way they execute projects.

At The DOT Corp, we’ve been creatively solving problems since our founding 41 years ago, and we have a lot of tools in our arsenal to help clients overcome these challenges. Our paper buying power, short run technology, variable content capability and project management services are helping many companies continue to run profitable print and direct mail marketing efforts. Contact us today, let’s find a solution that works for you!