problem newspapers are having to deal with;
plastics are another source of inflation sp.
NEWSPRINT IS GETTING all the ink, but purchasing managers have one word for those looking to identify other sources of newspaper cost inflation: plastics.
"Polybags, bundle-strapping, basically anything with plastic is going up in price," said Sam Mirza of the Chicago Tribune's financial services center.
Prices for several grades of polybags have gone up about 50% since they began rising in late 1993, several purchasing executives said at the recent 38th annual conference of the Newspaper Purchasing Management Association (NPMA) in Cincinnati.
Those kinds of increases can impact the bottom line quickly. Newspapers everywhere are using polybags more often ? and double-bagging during inclement weather more frequently ? as they work harder to ensure delivery of a dry, undamaged copy to the subscriber.
Last year, for instance, the New York Times used 227 million polybags, says the paper's purchasing director, William Spina.
And, this year, the paper will spend $2.5 million on the bags.
"It is one area we don't scrimp in," Spina said. "We just feel it is worth it."
The course of the price rises for polybags and other plastic products almost exactly parallels the story of newsprint pricing. Some purchasing managers, in fact, suspect suppliers are using the panic over newsprint to recoup quickly from several years of soft pricing.
"The market had been depressed and, as the economy improved, [suppliers] saw their chance to put in a series of increases," said Nylin D. Bathke, purchasing agent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and a former NPMA president.
Bathke noted that there are some market reasons for the increase, including a few production disruptions due to accidents and natural disasters among the small number of suppliers.
He also noted, however, that polybag consumers were able to resist the most recently announced price increase.
One way newspapers are fighting back is by, literally, cutting back on the thickness of their bags.
"We keep specs [thickness specifications] to a bare minimum ? and we are again looking at bag specs," said Ramsey Altman, head of purchasing for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.
"It's a seller's market," Altman added, "in newsprint and, basically, all paper products ? and anything polyethylene."
By: Mark Fitzgerald Rising newsprint costs are not the only