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UPDATE 1-DS Smith warns of rise in packaging prices due to COVID-19 as online shopping booms

(Recasts lead, adds details, CEO quote)

April 29 (Reuters) - Britain’s DS Smith warned on Thursday of higher packaging prices as an online shopping boom during the pandemic has led to a surge in demand for boxes, coupled with a shortage of raw materials and higher paper prices.

DS Smith, which supplies packaging products to companies including Amazon, Nestle and Unilever , said it plans to invest in new box plants in Italy and Poland, and expand capacity in Germany.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated growth in e-commerce and demand for sustainable products, as consumers stuck at home turn to the internet for shopping.

The FTSE-100 firm also said it expects to report annual results in line with expectations, as the online shopping boom helped boost its sales volumes and improved performance in the United States.

“As a purely fibre-based business, we are benefiting from accelerating consumer trends in online shopping and the drive for a more environmentally conscious life,” CEO Miles Roberts said in a statement.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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