If the predictions on officials at polyolefins supplier Sabic Europe hold true, then stretch film processors in Europe are soon to face a business threat of massive proportions. Then, or soon thereafter, stretch film capacity in the Middle East will increase from its current level of a paltry 39,000 tonnes/yr to some 340,000 tonnes/yr, according to Hans Kolnaar, manager of intelligence and business development at the supplier. He spoke last week in Bologna, Italy at the annual meeting of Europe’s plastics machinery manufacturing trade group, Euromap. MPW attended and spoke with Kolnaar after his presentation.
Kolnaar said the 340,000-tonnes/yr capacity figure is based on projects that Sabic Europe officials say have been funded and are almost certain to be installed. There are rumours that an additional 310,000-tonnes/yr of capacity could be installed in the Middle East in the same time period, he said. According to Kolnaar, most of this output will be headed to Europe as exports, with the Middle East-processed film likely to be much less expensive than that extruded in Europe due to the lower plastics prices in the Middle East. All told, such imports could eventually account for 25% or more of Europe’s stretch film market, he said.
The threat may not yet be as great as Sabic and Kolnaar suggest, however, as executives from two leading manufacturers of blown-film lines, who also attended the event in Bologna, told MPW later that, while demand for their equipment in the Middle East is growing rapidly, they had not yet seen signs of such massive expansion efforts.—[email protected]