January 2018 Update
Most publications have reported $100 of linerboard increases over the past year. Pack Trax's assessment is that considerably less than that level has been implemented for the sharpest container buyers.
Container demand is strong in all regions, led by online consumer product sales. Prices of inputs to recycled linerboard are being impacted by restrictions in China on imported secondary fiber for containers. This has diminished exports and caused prices for secondary fiber to decline in Europe and North America but to climb sharply in China on the resultant shortages. We expect new import licenses in January 2018 to cause a surge in buying interest in China and this will cause old corrugated container (OCC) to increase in price in North America and Europe. That could well result in a price increase for containerboard in early Q1 2018.
There is a wide gap in virgin versus recycled containerboard and this is limiting price increase options at present.
2018 Packaging Material Cost Forecast Update Highlights for Containers
Our 2018 Forecast was completed in June in time for budgeting for 2018. At that time we had projected a third increase will partially succeed in Q4 2017 or Q1 2018. It looks now as though Q1 / 2018 is realistic.