North American Containerboard Demand Outlook: Darkness Before the Dawn

The containerboard sector in North America has come full circle in a little over a decade. With high demand and ever-increasing prices, it was the poster child of the paper industry. Recently, however, flattening retail sales volume growth and high inventories, among other factors, have led to the lowest operating rates of containerboard capacity in the recent decade.

Using our proprietary and interactive model, we analyze the most influential factors for containerboard demand in North America. With an inevitable recession looming, we believe that the near future may be grim, with price declines of up to 5% by Q4 before a 2% YOY demand recovery in 2024 after the expected recession. Challenging market conditions will put producers to the test, and less efficient capacities will exit the market. In the long term, however, we believe in the resiliency of an industry supported by a strong foundation and healthy profitability.