The 47,500-ton drop in containerboard inventories at box plants and mills compares to an average 2,000-ton increase for the month of September over the past decade. The drop brought inventories to 2.43 million tons, equal to 4.2 weeks of supply, according to the Fibre Box Assn (FBA) and American Forest & Paper Assn (AF&PA) statistics.
But inventories were still the "highest for September in five years (or since 2.446 million tons in September 2008)," noted Chip Dillon of Vertical Research Partners. "Weeks of supply were the highest since September 2004."
Box shipments in August totaled 29.005 billion ft2, up 2.5% from a year ago on an actual basis, but down 2.2% average-week (adjusted for one more shipping day in the latest month).
Actual box shipments year-to-date were completely flat, but up 0.5% when adjusted for one less shipping day this year.
Containerboard mills, particularly ones making kraft linerboard, down shifted production in September by 8.9% from the previous month although output was only down 0.1% from a year ago, according to the AF&PA statistics.
Containerboard operating rates fell to 93.8% in September from 99.7% in August and below their year-to-date average of 96.6%