Smurfit Kappa offset significant input cost pressures by increasing its prices in the first half of the year and will continue to do so, Europe's largest paper packaging producer said as its earnings rose 6%.

Exceptional demand for packaging used in e-commerce at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic helped limit the damage from disruption elsewhere for the Irish group, whose core earnings fell 9% during 2020.

First-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of €781 million were up on €735 million in the same, partly pandemic-disrupted period a year ago but down on the record 847 million reported in the first six months of 2019.

The group, whose customers include Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Nestle, said it continued to see strong demand for its core products.

"As a result of our past and current capital investments in our integrated business model, we have, for the most part, been able to fulfil our customers' needs during this period of exceptionally strong demand," said Tony Smurfit, Group CEO of Smurfit Kappa.

The trend of passing on higher input costs to customers has also continued in the second half, Smurfit said.

A slew of major companies reeling from the impact of the high prices of raw materials, increased labour expenses and supply-chain woes are raising product prices as demand for several goods rebound with a reopening of economies.

Smurfit said it planned to accelerate investment plans to meet customer needs and capitalise on significant growth opportunities.

It also announced the acquisition of a 600,000 tonne capacity recycled containerboard mill in Northern Italy, following on from recent similar deals in Peru and Mexico.