Some of you may have noticed that a some of our prices have risen recently. We never like to raise prices, although in reality we've been on the receiving end of multiple price increases this year in our supply chains which we are unfortunately no longer able to absorb and must increase our prices.
So why is everything going up?
You've probably already noticed a rise in prices when doing the food shop, and unfortunately it's pretty much the same story across all industries around the world with a number of factors causing the perfect storm:
Even though all our products are printed right here in Blighty, getting print supplies, such as ink and substrates, into the country is proving to be a challenge in itself.
Pretty much all industries have been affected by staff isolating due to Covid-19 and social distancing regulations, resulting in a lower output. When staff shortages began to occur at ports, containers were unable to be unloaded as quickly as before resulting in congestion at ports causing an overwhelming amount of stock to become stuck for weeks.
With the shortage of HGV drivers resulting in reduced levels of inbound containers leaving ports, there's less space for container tankers to be offloaded.
Brexit hasn't helped matters as since leaving the EU, additional checks and other formalities now apply when shipments are moved across the UK border. This process is a lot more time-consuming and adds more pressure to already struggling ports.
Earlier this year, when the monster 400 metre long Ever Given container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, it also blocked hundreds of other vessels from accessing one of the busiest trade routes in the world. This resulted in a dramatic rise in shipping prices and a domino effect of delays.
China and the US are the largest producers of print materials such as paper, and in addition to the Brexit related delays, the cost of shipping a container from Asia to the UK has been seen as high as 14 times the price compared to pre-pandemic levels, and transit times doubling from 35 to 70 days.
One very important print material that is proving both expensive and harder to source is ink. Two ingredients required to make ink are ethanol and n-propanol. These are also found in cleaning products, and during the pandemic these ingredients were prioritised for the manufacture of disinfectants and sanitisers.
Combined with Covid restrictions and staff levels, the plants making the ink are unable to produce it at the rate it's required. And even when printers find an ink source, there's still the challenge and cost of getting it here.
With an increase in demand coupled with an array of supply chain issues, it’s no wonder that paper costs are on the rise with prices for paper in August at 50% more than the same time last year with no signs of slowing down soon.
Produced in mills, the production of paper has slowed due to a combination of both worker shortages and the stocks being depleted on packaging products during the pandemic.
Alongside a shortage in materials, there have also been cuts in production and the closure of paper mills due to a rapid drop in demand, again, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The mills that have continued on with the production of paper are now overwhelmed with demand and the pressure is now on for those who are operating, to produce an increased amount of paper, especially as we move towards the festive season...and just like the ink, there's still the mission of getting it from the mills to the presses.
We try to remain competitive with our prices, and although currently we're seeing some of our costs change several times a week, we hope things will settle at some point, and if our costs go back down so will the price you pay.