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April, 2025
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Data | China’s Corrugated Raw Paper Market Saw a Shortfall of Nearly 3.86 Million Tons in 2020

According to FORWARD Business Information, China’s corrugated raw paper market faced a shortfall in supply of nearly 3.86 million tons last year, and over the past 10 years, the average annual shortage has reached 677,000 tons. The demand gap is gradually expanding.

Industries including food and beverage, home appliances, IT electronics which have a huge demand for corrugated boxes now are seeing a trend of consumption upgrading. The trend of upgrading packaging in leading end users will lead to continued growth in the market size of mid- to high-end corrugated cartons. Upstream paper mills produce corrugated raw paper as raw materials. In the carton-manufacturing industrial chain, the primary mills are producers of raw paper, which have benefited from the big jump in paper prices; the secondary mills are producers of cardboard, such as those producing corrugated paper and carton board; and the tertiary mills are producers of carton. Although China’s economy is currently facing problems such as slower growth due to economic transformation, the economic drivers are gradually shifting from export- and investment-led to consumption-led, which is good for China’s corrugated carton industry.

Corrugated raw paper production & sales gradually pick up in the Chinese market.

Cardboard and corrugated paper are the main products of China’s paper industry, accounting for nearly 50% of the total. According to statistics from the China Paper Association, China's corrugated raw paper production and sales were in balance before 2016, and after 2016 the sales rapidly exceed the production. In 2020, China’s corrugated raw paper production reaches 23.9 million tons and sales 27.76 million tons. 

The production & sales of corrugated raw paper in China

(in ten thousand tons, 2006-2020)


The demand gap for corrugated raw paper is gradually expanding in China.

Although the supply and demand in China’s paper industry are basically balanced, the development of each market segment is still uneven and structural gaps still exist. The rapid development of the Internet has brought development opportunities for e-commerce, and people's acceptance of online shopping is increasing, which is good news for producers of cardboard and corrugated paper products, but the market segment currently is facing a considerable supply gap. According to China Paper Association, the Chinese market saw a shortfall of nearly 3.86 million tons of corrugated raw paper in 2020, with an average annual shortfall of 677,000 tons over the past 10 years.

Demand shortfall of corrugated raw paper in China

(in ten thousand tons, 2010-2020)




The trend of mounting demand can also be reflected on the import and export data. China's import and export of corrugated raw paper were relatively balanced before 2016, but after 2016 import gradually exc­­­eeded export, rising to 3.89 million tons by 2020, with an import demand gap of 3.86 million tons.

The import and export of corrugated raw paper in China

(in ten thousand tons, 2006-2020)


The demand for corrugated raw paper in China remains huge in the future.

According to AICC, China's per capita consumption of corrugated board is only 40 square meters per year, far below the level of developed countries such as the United States and Japan. It’s predicted that the Chinese market’s demand for corrugated raw paper will remain huge in the future.

Per capita consumption of corrugated cardboard by country

(in square meter per year)




In general, except for some high-end products and raw materials for corrugated carton production that need to be imported, the supply and demand in China’s corrugated packaging industry is basically balanced. In other words, China needs to improve the recycling rate of corrugated cartons and increase the output of high-end corrugated products in order to better deal with the future rise in corrugated packaging consumption.

Author : GPMA Editor Team