In October 2010, Flint Group alerted printers to expect ink prices to continue to rise through 2011. In February, the company announced price increases on narrow web and other inks. Now comes another price hike, this one for flexographic printing plates as well as inks. The increases, which affect all ink companies and their customers, are the result of “repetitive and continuing raw material cost increases,” Flint reports.
Prices of all Flint packaging and narrow web inks in North America will go up May 1. Water and solvent based products will increase 8 percent, with the exception of white, which increases 10 percent. All energy cured products will increase 5 percent. Violet 23 continues to be in short supply with rising costs, and will be addressed on a customer by customer basis, the company says.
“The ink industry has found the last two years, and particularly the last six months, very challenging,” says Susan Kuchta, Flint’s vice president North American packaging and narrow web. “Material shortages, government policies, environmental concerns, decreased feedstock availability, and competition from other industries for available materials have come together to push costs to unprecedented levels.
“Raw materials increased significantly in the last half of 2010, again in January 2011, and still again in the last 30 days,” she notes. “During the last few months we have seen multiple increases on individual items and continuing tight supply. Our first responsibility to our customers is to focus on continuity of supply and to produce high quality products. We have worked closely in the past, and will continue to work closely in the future, with our customers as we minimize the impact of these increases with alternative raw materials, replacement products where relevant and our ongoing focus on productivity and cost containment initiatives.”
Flint Group Flexographic Products, which manufactures flexo plates, also feels the price pressure from its suppliers. President Mario Busshoff says that the industry “has had to withstand significant and constant pressure since the economic collapse at the end of 2008. De-stocking of raw materials to this industry has resulted in unprecedented raw material prices, while the price of energy continues to rise towards the record levels. Additionally the chemical industry has consolidated heavily in the last few years, limiting the available global capacities. Serious shortages and unrelenting cost increases are still evolving along with an increasing demand.”
As a consequence, the Flint division has imposed price increases on average by 5 percent for nyloflex printing plates and by 10 percent for nyloprint printing plates, depending on the product type. The increases take effect immediately.
“We are aware that the printing industry is being exposed to a high cost pressure,” Busshoff says, “and has been working hard to mitigate price increases through various cost containment initiatives. But now we have reached a point where we can no longer absorb the increases and need to adapt the prices for our printing plates. We will, however, continue to challenge our own processes and suppliers to keep the price adjustments as low as possible.”