Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020 11:05 GMT

BCF in Covid-19 warning over raw material costs

The British Coatings Federation (BCF) has warned that print companies in the UK could face paying higher prices for inks due to disruption caused by the novel coronavirus.

According to the BCF, printing ink manufacturers across Europe are reporting reduced availability of ethanol and n-propanol - key inputs into the production of printed packaging inks and other materials such as varnishes.

As such, the BCF says this could in turn have a knock-on effect on the supply of both food and pharmaceutical products, with both markets relying heavily on packaging.

“In the past few days, BCF members have reported that prices for ethanol and n-propanol have risen by up to 350% since last week, adding thousands of pounds a week in additional material costs,” BCF chief executive Tom Bowtell says, adding: “There are greater concerns that supplies will dry up completely in future.

“The BCF has already been in touch with officials at BEIS to make them aware of members’ concerns and how these shortages of supply may affect the availability of food packaging and packaging in other critical areas, like pharmaceutical products.”

BCF members have reported that prices for ethanol and n-propanol have risen by up to 350% since last week, adding thousands of pounds a week in additional material costs

Debbie Waldron-Hoines of the European Flexographic Industry Association (EFIA) also calls on governments to take action over the rising prices to ensure vital food and medical products are in plentiful supply during the outbreak.

Waldron-Hoines says: “While it is understandable measures are being taken to ensure a robust response to the Covid-19 outbreak, we also need to make sure that the baby is not thrown out with the bathwater.

“Ethanol is a vital raw material for printing inks used for flexible food packaging, a vital part of the food supply chain. We urge the UK government, and governments across Europe, to take action to ensure supplies of essential raw materials continue to be made available for the purposes of essential packaging manufacturing.”

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