By Liz White, editor
London -- Flexible foamers in Europe desperately want more price stability in their raw materials and have nominated Europur, the European association of manufacturers of flexible foam blocks, to talk to suppliers on their behalf.
"We have never seen this before," said Europur president Ward Dupont, at the Europur General Assembly in London, 10-11 June, discussing the difficulties foamers have with the current frequency of price increases.
Dupont has analysed relevant raw materials price changes from Jan 2008 to June 2010, and found 23 out of the 30 months during which prices moved up or down.
In announcing this move, Dupont said Europur is really kicking the ball into the raw materials suppliers' court, "trying to set the ball rolling for some open discussions with raw materials manufacturers."
And he stressed that this has to be "within the limits of what's allowed by competition law."
"Almost every month we have a price rise," he said, adding, "the worry is that prices will start changing by the fortnight," or even weekly.
Foamers are caught between two big groupings: the raw materials suppliers -- of which there are only half-a-dozen -- and the major manufacturers and big retailers in furniture and bedding, said Dupont.
Raw materials suppliers "are aggressive in the way they price their raw materials," while foamers' customers, "are extremely aggressive in not accepting any price increases," Dupont said.
"Between them, if we're not careful, they will kill us," he warned.
"What I am concerned about is that we have monthly price rises and we have eight suppliers for polyols, six for isocyanates and with every one we have to negotiate the price each month."
This means that, "At the beginning of the month we often don't know what prices will be," and "If we are not careful we may end up doing it weekly," he said.
PIC : A worried Ward Dupont (right) with Renato Ravicino, EuroMoulders president, at a press conference following the Europur general assembly.