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Global stock markets are getting hammered this year, but plastics processing machinery manufacturers in Germany and Italy continue to earn blue chip results. The trade associations representing those manufacturers in both countries shared their look on the year-to-date results and offered predictions for sales through the end of 2011. If the glass ball is telling the truth, then machine makers have reason to smile.

PlasticsToday Staff

September 23, 2011

4 Min Read
Stock markets may be down but plastic machinery sales remain brisk

In Germany, the Plastics and Rubber Machinery group within the country's machine manufacturing trade association, the VDMA, says its members expect exports of plastics and rubber machinery to continue to rise. Last year saw a robust recovery in foreign deliveries by German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers, according to the VDMA, with annual growth of 25.6%. Despite that surge, exports fell far short of the record achieved in 2008. "There is a chance that the gap may of course close again this year," said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the VDMA Association, who added, "German export deliveries had risen by 46.5% by the middle of 2011."

Germany is the leading exporter of plastics and rubber processing machinery. According to the VDMA, the countries with the biggest sales markets all boast significantly above-average growth rates. China ranks first with a 67% increase, followed by the U.S. with 60%, India with 95%, Russia with 80.1%, Mexico with 96.8% and Turkey with 87.3%.

The industry's sales were up 35% in the first half of 2011. "Based on the current forecast, sales will rise by 18% over the year as a whole," commented Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of the Association. "However, in the light of the figures for the year to date, growth may in fact top the 20% mark. The industry as a whole will therefore reach its all-time high again and is even set to exceed it."

Looking further ahead, the VDMA predicts the positive sales trend will continue in 2012. The industry's new orders were up by a further 23% in the first six months of 2011, with orders from customers in Germany rising by 21% and those from abroad by 24%.

In Italy, and according to the figures proffered by Assocomaplast, the Italian association representing some 170 manufacturers of machinery, molds and equipment for plastics and rubber processing, in the first half of 2011 Italian exports in this sector were up about 22% compared to the first six months of 2010. The value of all exports n the first six months of this year was about €1.12 billion. Its members' sales for the current year will amount to at least €2.300 billion, predicts Assocomaplast.

According to Assocomaplast president Giorgio Colombo, "The strong performance recorded this year is the fruit of intensive sales actions undertaken by SMEs in this sector which, in the wake of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, redoubled their efforts to penetrate the principal destination countries, also with the help of foreign promotion funds made available by the trade association."

Colombo highlighted B2B meetings organized in the first months of this year in Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Hungary, Romania and China as being especially helpful in promoting the country's plastics machinery exports. In China and Russia, Assocomaplast also now has liaison offices to provide information and services to Italian companies keen to penetrate those markets, and in India works with the UCIMU association of machine tool manufacturers.

Exports of extrusion machinery from Italy accounted for 11% of the total, and were up 17% relative to the first half of last year, with exports of flexographic printers likewise achieving a 20% rise.

Export turnover of injection molding machines was up even more, by more than 50%. According to Assocomaplast, export growth in all the machinery categories (blowmolding, thermoforming, auxiliary equipment, etc.) has been positive, with the majority reaching double-digit rises.

For Italian manufacturers in the past three years, plastics processors in the Americas (and particularly South America) and the Far East have recorded the strongest demand growth. During the first half of the current year, the Chinese market was the third most important destination for Italian exports in this sector, accounting for a 6.2% share of the total exports, and up by 24% over January-June 2010.

Exports within Europe also showed a marked rise relative to the first half of 2010, up 30% within the EU, although the trend appears flatter on average over the three-year period. The Near and Middle East showed a decline in the first half of 2011 relative to the same period in 2010,which can be attributed to the civil upheaval in the region.

For individual destination countries for Italy's plastics machinery, Germany (with an approximately 15% share of the total) sits at the top, followed by France, China, the United States and the CIS, all markets which have for many years now accounted for over 1/3 of total exports, and which showed double-digit increases relative

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