Packaging Delivery Times during COVID-19

Delivery trick image

Covid-19 has affected all of our businesses in a myriad of ways. In the packaging industry, a major effect has been longer lead times on boards which may have a knock-on effect on the delivery dates of your packaging. In this article, we will explore this in more detail and advise you on what you can do about it.

Longer lead times from board mills

One effect of Covid-19 has been that there are long lead times for board orders from the mills. Board types that have been affected include Kraft (Brownback) and recycled board (Greyback) but FBB (Cream & white back) is also being affected to a lesser extent. This is normally a 4 weeks delivery time which has been extended to as far as 12 weeks in some cases. We have been advised by the mills that demand is hugely in excess of capacity.

Board Price Increases

In some cases, prices have increased on boards, without any prior negotiation.

Reasons for these changes in board supply

Many reasons have been given for these changes, such as that during Covid-19, there is a shortage of recycled board. Another reason offered is that the board mills in China & the US are maintaining the home market and not shipping as much board into Europe etc. Material is in short supply from local suppliers.

How to ensure that you get your packaging on time during COVID-19.

There are a number of important factors that can impact the delivery date for your packaging.

At this time, the type of board you choose is probably the biggest factor in deciding when your packaging can be delivered.

Board type used. We order the board from the paper mills and we rely on them to deliver on time. If you choose a slightly more unusual board/a board that has been impacted by the COVID-19 related delays, this may mean longer delivery times.
(If you have an order where you have confirmed the type of board and the order quantity, we may be able to order the board even if other aspects of the packaging, such as the design are as yet unconfirmed*
*This may not be possible for all orders.)

Early Warning

Whether your packaging order is a straightforward reprint of existing packaging or a new packaging design, giving an early warning is one of the best ways you can help your packaging supplier to get the best delivery date. Give your packaging supplier early warning of your impending order, even if you are not sure of all of the details, such as the quantity, number of package sorts, number of colours etc. A simple phone call to say, “I may need some cartons, sleeves, etc. in x number of weeks’ time, I’ll let you know when I know more” means they can pencil in a possible job and give you a call a week or so later as the delivery schedule develops.

Existing Packaging

If your packaging order is for a straight reprint of a previous order, the number of factors that can affect the delivery date is less than if you are ordering packaging with a new artwork design or new packaging structure, (such as if the flaps, die-cuts, window that have changed in shape or size.)  Let’s look at the factors below.

Factors affecting Delivery Times of Existing Packaging

It is advisable to always check the delivery time for a packaging job and don’t assume that the delivery time will be the same as the last job. A number of factors can make a difference in the delivery date.

Time of year: packaging demand fluctuates throughout the year, the pre-Christmas rush is often a time when you may need to allow more time for your packaging to be produced. This pre-Christmas production rush can often start as early as October. However, other times of the year can become busy too so it’s always worth a phone call to check.

Shipping. In rare cases, high winds or inclement weather conditions may mean that board deliveries are delayed.

Factors affecting Delivery Times of New Packaging

In addition to considering the factors above, there are additional factors to be aware of when ordering packaging that has a new or altered design or structure.

Get the design and structure right 

If you are ordering packaging for a new product or changing an existing design or structure, getting the structure and the design right from the start will greatly help your chances of getting your packaging delivered on time. Below we have important tips on how to ensure you get it right.

Talk to your Packaging Supplier First

Before you start to engage the services of a packaging designer, talk to a packaging supplier first. Yes, talk to your packaging supplier first. The reason for this is that the usability of the carton or sleeve is the first thing to consider. The overall structure of the packaging must be agreed before you can engage a designer to create wonderful artwork to enhance your presence on the shelves or wherever your product is displayed.

Keylines are Important

At Dollard Packaging we can help your create the correct structure of your packaging and supply your designer with a Keyline (A Keyline is a layout guide that your designer must use to format the artwork correctly. This ensures that when the packaging is printed and folded, all packaging sides face the correct direction and all the interlocking/overlapping parts fit together perfectly) See keyline example below in Figure 1 and Figure 2 below.

Keyline for Carton Printing

Keyline for Carton Printing

Once you have the correct keyline, your graphic designer can design the artwork, safe in the knowledge that when the packaging is printed, all the sides will be facing the correct way and the flaps will interlock correctly etc. We can supply a keyline to your graphic designer and he/she can consult us with any queries on layout, style etc.

You can read more about this on another Dollard Packaging blog

Carton Packaging Buying – Must Know Facts about your Packaging Quotes

Getting this important first step right will mean that no time will be lost in artwork edits or recreation.

Proofing: another important step in ensuring an efficient delivery date is checking your proof carefully as errors in the artwork discovered at a later stage can delay production. You may find our proofing checklist helpful


Get your packaging supplier involved at the very start of the packaging design and ordering process. Don’t assume that the delivery time will be the same as the last time just because it’s the same order quantity etc.

Keep the lines of communication open at all times and let your packaging supplier know when any order details are confirmed.

Speak to the Dollard Packaging sales team if you have any queries. 01 847 0044