Cardboard Is One of the Most In Demand Commodities

April 16, 2021

Cardboard packages waiting on doorsteps became a common sight during the pandemic. Amid stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, Americans turned to online shopping in a big way, and all those packages have driven a huge spike in demand for cardboard.

Manufacturers in the U.S. produced more than 407 billion square feet of corrugated cardboard last year, according to the Fibre Box Association. That’s an increase of 3.4% over the year before. That’s equivalent to an extra 477 square miles, more than enough to blanket all of New York City.

Despite the push to increase production, manufacturers still cannot keep pace with demand. The Institute for Supply Management has listed corrugated cardboard as a commodity in short supply for the last five months. 

This demand drove the Producer Price Index for corrugated and solid fiber box manufacturing to its highest-ever level in February.

While e-commerce is driving much of the demand, industry analysts have noted that the booming housing market and remodeling are contributing factors. Large appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers that come packaged in cardboard use a substantial amount of material as well.

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