FRANKFURT, Germany, March 7, 2019 (Press Release) -The printing and paper machine manufacturing industry can look back on an overall satisfactory and stable performance in 2018. As in the previous year, overall exports totalled 4.6 billion euros. Strong demand in China and EU countries partially compensated for a significant fall in sales in North and South America, Russia, India and France.
With exports totalling 2.15 billion euros, Europe remained the most important region: 82 percent of these exports went to customers in the 28 EU countries. The largest single market was China. There, the demand for German printing and paper technology rose by 8.2 percent in comparison to 2017 and totalled a volume of 612 million euros. Sales in the United States, which topped the list in the previous year, lagged well behind at 576.5 million euros. Compared with the previous year, the value of exports to the USA dropped by 2.3 percent. The third-largest single market in 2018 was Poland with German printing and paper technology imports totalling 241.9 million euros - over a quarter more than in 2017. This was closely followed by Italy with 238.4 million euros (+ 27.3 percent).
Sunshine and rain
A more differentiated look at the various segments in the printing and paper technology industry reveals a significantly more heterogeneous business trend. On the heels of the strong order intake in the previous year, manufacturers of paper processing machines were able to increase their turnover in EU partner countries by a hefty 52 percent. Their turnover also climbed in their domestic markets (+ 3 percent) as well as their markets abroad (+ 5 percent). However, a noticeable cooling-off can also be seen: in 2018, around 16 percent fewer orders were placed than in the previous year. Order intake in the domestic market actually dropped by two thirds of the value from the previous year.
Printing press manufacturing reveals a mixed picture: Although turnover in 2018 was 7 percent less than 2017 levels - the domestic market was even down by 22 percent - orders from the home market actually rose by 8 percent; fewer orders came from the euro area and abroad. Order intake fell by a total of 2 percent. This trend is specifically the result of a significant fall in demand in two key markets. Exports to the United States sank by around 15 percent and in France demand fell by as much as 30 percent. The downturn in the two largest export markets of the previous year could not be offset by the positive growth in markets such as Italy, Poland or Japan.
Good business year for paper technology
In contrast, manufacturers of paper technology can look back on a very good year in 2018. Exports to China (+ 28 percent), Spain (+ 150 percent), UK (+ 125 percent), Poland (+ 50 percent) and Italy (+ 30 percent) grew robustly. Exports to the United States also remained stable at 143 million euros in comparison to the previous year. This positive picture is clouded only by a significant drop in exports to Russia (- 30 percent).
"Even if the weak order intake is causing us some concern - and the global political situation offers little hope of rapid improvement - we as an industry can look back on an overall satisfactory year in 2018", sums up Dr. Markus Heering, Managing Director of the VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association. The stable export volume of 4.6 billion euros attests that the printing industry throughout the world is modernising its machine base with printing and paper technology made in Germany. Made in Germany enables companies to meet the rising quality and productivity demands in the global world of print business - and achieve reasonable margins at the same time. Throughout the world, networked and automated solutions have become more rapidly a reality than ever anticipated a few years ago.
Future-oriented sector on the look-out for junior trainees
"Print is a future-oriented market that continues to promise growth in segments such as packaging printing, printing on textiles, plastics, ceramics, metals and wood material as well as printing on functional surfaces," says Dr. Heering. Since workflows in the sector are today already digital, automated and highly networked - and many manufacturers are working with artificial intelligence (AI) and deep-learning methods to improve the levels of quality and productivity of their machines - the printing and paper machine manufacturing industry is searching for trainee engineers with IT, electronics and engineering skills. Especially since customers are completely networked themselves and their calls for digital cooperative and workflow solutions are becoming louder.
"Anyone starting their career in our sector with its medium-sized companies works on the further development of solutions for the printing and packaging market - an exciting and challenging task", says Dr. Heering. In future, companies will be implementing new technical possibilities in digitisation to enable them to continue to sell innovative products. "Our sectors offer a mix of future technologies and global focus", he explains.
German printing and paper technology was sold in 176 countries throughout the world in 2018
The latest market data also reveals the sector's international footprint. In 2018, German printing and paper machine manufacturers delivered their solutions to no fewer than 176 countries throughout the world, including the Fiji Islands and Aruba as well as Macao, Djibouti and the Polar regions.
The highest market growth was in Angola - around 150 times as much as in the previous year was exported to the country. West Africa was the strongest growth region with 141 percent growth - albeit baseline levels were low from the start. In general, exports to Africa increased significantly. Printing and paper technology was sold in a total of 43 countries to the tune of 170 million euros. Africa therefore overtook Central and Southern Asia, including India (- 28.3 percent at 135 million euros) as well as the Near and Middle East (+ 17 percent at 135.8 million euros). Exports to Central America (- 14.7 percent at 109 million euros) and South America (- 13.1 percent at 136 million euros) lagged behind.
"Overall, it can be said that, on the basis of the latest market data, our broad-based market strategy is working", explains Dr. Heering. He also includes in this the regular global skill-acquisition activities and specialist conferences held by PrintPromotion GmbH. At present, preparations are already in full swing for the next World Tour in the run-up to drupa 2020 (16 - 26 June 2020 in Düsseldorf). The tour is due to start in late summer 2019. "Due to the fast-paced progressive digitisation in our sectors, our agenda is full to brim", reveals Dr. Heering. Drupa, the world's leading trade fair is also generating high hopes. "drupa 2020 promises to be a great trade event, showcasing the latest topics in the industry and the key future trends.”