For several clients we print and distribute large runs of magazines and catalogs 2 or 4 times per year. Lately, we have had to urge these clients to allow an average of five months for us to secure paper. In the pre-covid world, this request was about two to three weeks in advance. We have to be flexible to buy immediately when a supply is located somewhere in the system.
Certain grades and weights of paper are completely out of stock and not on the manufacturing schedule for at least 6 months due to the mills making up the backorder of more popular weights of paper and packaging board. Once manufactured they will enter the queue for shipping and distribution which is currently also experiencing huge labor shortage adding significantly more time.
Suggesting alternate brands and in some cases weight of paper has been normal. We had a new request in May to produce an August 22' catalog asking for 50# gloss text paper. 50# was out of stock and months out on mill schedules, so we could only offer 70# gloss at the time, affecting not only a cost increase in the product but an increase in postage costs as well. We are doing everything possible to keep clients on a normal fulfillment schedule and mitigate these cost increases.
Fortunately, our use of multiple print outlets provides us somewhat more control than having to rely on single sources.