Starch from wheat, potatoes and other food is used to make paper for packaging. Wheat and starch prices have soared this year, risking the possibility of shortages, and governments are likely to have to prioritize food over paper if the situation persists. Paper is becoming more common for food packaging and a shortage could mean a return to single-use plastics, which are harder to recycle.
Alex Manisty of DS Smith, the FTSE 100 packaging company, said: “Corrugated board for cardboard boxes is absolutely critical for the food and drinks supply chain. The worry is that when we get into next year that there might be shortages. For big companies like us we have contracts in place, but it is definitely something that could be an issue.”
A shortage could mean disruption in food deliveries if alternatives are not found. Industry insiders acknowledge that food would prevail over paper if a choice must be made, but a collapse in cardboard supply probably means more plastics being used.
Russia and Ukraine together grow almost a quarter of the world’s wheat and the conflict has disrupted harvests and planting in Ukraine, the fifth-biggest exporter. Those shortages will start to be felt in the coming year unless new sources are found.
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