In order to help printers and converters understand why their ink prices may be on the rise, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers, Inc. (NAPIM) is issuing a series of bulletins that provide insight into the raw material printing ink market supply chain.
This is an update to the January 31, 2011 press release and covers the availability of critical raw materials likely used in the inks that printers’ purchase in all of the major printing processes – lithographic, gravure, flexographic and inkjet.
Availability, driven by capacity and demand from competing regions and industries, continues to be the dominant factor on how much product any one manufacturer can obtain and at what cost. Some of the key raw materials causing price increases include: rosin, acrylic acid, carbon black, titanium dioxide, nitrocellulose, crude oil and natural gas, vegetable oils, and colored organic pigments.
In all regions rosin remains in tight supply. In North America tall oil rosin (TOR) is very tight and under severe upward price pressure due to the global demand for TOR (driven by replacement demand of Gum Rosin and bio diesel demand in Europe) and has now hit price levels nearly equal to Gum Rosin. Although we are recently seeing some price stability, prices remain at an all-time highs. Since January 2010 the cost of rosin is 3 times more expensive and will likely remain at very high price levels for the foreseeable future. We are beginning to see some changes away from rosin to alternatives but the alternatives also have supply and price issues associated with them.
North America has moved from a net importer to a net exporter, a number of suppliers of rosin based materials have decided to focus their efforts away from the graphic arts industry.
Various production problems around the world and increased demand from other industrial applications continue to result in a tight market, rising prices and sales control initiatives from major producers. Styrene in particular has seen skyrocketing prices. As a result, the availability of acrylates remains tight as well. Certain specialty methacrylates are also in short supply. Polyamide resins have seen unprecedented raw material increases given competing end-uses of tall oil fatty acids (TOFA). Many supporting chemicals have started to move upward as well.
A second carbon black supplier was recently purchased by a private equity firm. This is the second major supplier to be sold this year. The first was acquired by a competitor resulting in a consolidated supply base. Crude oil escalation is applying further pressure to an already constrained market. The availability of Carbon Black for the graphic arts industry has been significantly reduced due to the ongoing demand increase for tires.
Titanium Dioxide (TiO2)
TiO2 continues its aggressive move upward as suppliers have announced their third increase for 2011; the latest a 10 percent announcement for June. Product remains tight and there is no available capacity for reallocation of volumes or growth. The increasing cost of energy, the ongoing consolidation of the market and the coatings industry are key drivers.
In addition, feed stock and key raw material availability and price pressures are likely to further drive prices higher in the coming months as producers attempt to stay in front of an increasing cost curve. A major global supplier of TiO2 announced significant capacity expansion plans earlier this week (week of 5/9/2011); however the majority of this capacity is not expected to come on line until the end of 2014.