Finance

Shortage of boxes: still need a nice packaging for Christmas? ‘Don’t count on it’

Catering entrepreneur Frank Streefland, owner of restaurants de Polderkeuken and Polderkamer and a catering company, managed to order a batch of boxes just in time to be able to carry out his plans for the coming period. The catering industry has had to close at 8 p.m. since last weekend, which is why extra gas is being given to home delivery.

Streefland delivers meal boxes and special Christmas and snack boxes to your home. To this end, he also works with companies that organize alternatives to a Christmas drink for their staff. “I ordered 5,500 euros worth of boxes yesterday. It’s a risk, but I have to prepare,” he said earlier this week.

‘More than three thousand catering customers’

He was still there in time for the festive season, says Jurgen Vugts, director of Doos op Maat. His company makes boxes for entrepreneurs in the catering and retail sectors, if desired, with his own design.

“We have about 15,000 customers,” he says. Because the boxes are made-to-measure, Vugts basically has no stock. The machines run when there is a demand for boxes.

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And that is currently very high, says the director. The approaching holidays, our online ordering frenzy and of course the latest corona rules mean that his factory is working overtime. “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have gained three thousand catering customers,” says Vugts. “This branch really exploded.”

Two shifts

Vugts ordered additional cutting machines, filled his warehouses with cardboard and now works two shifts in his box factory. Existing customers were asked to place their orders on time, he says. This means that the ceiling for this year has been somewhat reached. Those who still order boxes now may not receive them until next year.

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You will receive a smaller, custom-made postal box within two weeks of ordering. But for a somewhat larger folding box, a delivery time of 30 to 33 working days already applies. Then you will soon be in January. “Most entrepreneurs want to have their affairs in order before December 1, says Vugts. Otherwise they cannot realize their plans.

Bad luck for the catering industry?

Bad luck for catering companies that are now fully committed to meal delivery again? Jan Willem Koole, co-owner of 123 Cardboard Boxes, came up with something this week: free boxes for the local catering industry, Noordwijk area.

There are 15,000 to-go boxes ready. “We hope you can find the strength again to continue with home menus,” Koole’s sister and business partner Liselore wrote on the internet.

Madhouse

It’s madness, says brother Koole about the general box crowd. His suppliers now work in his company with three shifts a day, each of 8 hours. “And then the day is full,” he says.

Some boxes can still be ordered from stock for this year, but if you want something custom, that will no longer be possible in 2021. “It’s almost impossible to get anything before Christmas.”

box society

Both Koole and Vugts see a sector-wide problem. We now live in a real box society, which has only become more due to the pandemic. Demand is high and that won’t change anytime soon, thinks Koole. “We order so much online, it’s convenience and I think that’s going to last.”

Shortage of paper

Add to that the trade flows of raw materials for paper, which have been disrupted by the coronavirus, and you quickly have shortages. At the moment, this mainly leads to higher prices for the boxes. For example, a Koole customer previously paid 22 cents per box for a batch, which is now 29 cents.

“It may not be huge, but it is the umpteenth price increase in the series. Wages, energy. It will all become more expensive for companies.”

Golden times?

And therefore also golden times for the box makers of the Netherlands? Koole prefers not to share figures, but does say that his turnover this year is ‘considerably’ higher than the previous one. “We are already planning for February, so this year is already fully booked.”

But there is also a nuance, Vugts knows: “We cannot meet all requests.” The question cannot be played out completely. “We also want to continue to offer quality.”

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