Supply Chain Chaos: The Paper Shortage Plaguing Global Markets

It feels like we’re in the midst of a never-ending saga of supply chain chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And it shows no signs of stopping.


In the past year, we’re reported on shortages of everything from corrugated cardboard to nitrile gloves.


And now, it’s the global paper shortage that’s causing problems around the world.


Here’s what you need to know.

What’s Driving the Global Paper Shortage?

While the shipping disruptions caused by the pandemic are a significant driving force behind the global paper shortage, that’s not the only cause--and some of them might surprise you.


For instance, as the pandemic got underway, sales of print books unexpectedly skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. Meanwhile, people were leaving manufacturing jobs in droves, in turn leading to labour shortages in the printing and papermaking businesses.


On the flip side of that coin, though, is the fact that overall paper demand has dropped 50% in recent years, causing many mills to convert to other, more profitable products. This set the benchmark for paper production at historical lows before the pandemic ever emerged.

What Are the Impacts of the Global Paper Shortage?

The reality is that plants that have spent millions of dollars retooling their factories to support the production of other types of goods aren’t going to switch back to paper production, even in the face of increased demand.


As a result, the paper shortage is likely going to get worse before it gets better--and this is causing problems across the board.


Most recently, the state of Texas had to limit the number of voter registration forms it gave to organizations ahead of the March primaries due to the paper shortage. And, looking ahead, there will likely be challenges for governments across the United States in securing the ballots and envelopes needed for the 2022 midterm elections in May.


But these challenges will also extend to direct marketers, retailers, and more.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Business?

If your business relies heavily on paper products, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the impact of the shortage.

Plan Ahead

Give yourself a significantly longer window when it comes to ordering and try to anticipate your needs in the long term.


It’s vital to stay ahead of the ball in order to ensure you don’t find yourself in a bind.

Use Innovative Warehousing Solutions

Make sure to place orders for any paper products well in advance and consider purchasing overstock so you have extra on-hand if needed.


You can also explore options like our innovative warehousing solutions that let you order large quantities of product, benefit from economies of scale, and store overstock in our warehouses so that you have on-demand access to your cardboard products when you need them.


If you’d like to learn more about how to manage the current paper shortage, get in touch with us today. Our team is here to help.