Drupa’s 7th Global Trends Report: The Global Printing Industry Is Facing Economic And Environmental Challenges


Packaging and printing market Drupa’s 7th Global Trends Report will be released in April 2020.This survey was conducted prior to the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus and Drupa’s decision to postpone the launch to 2021, so no information related to recent developments was provided.The survey results show that the global industry remains positive, but the global economic situation is more challenging.Compared to the publishing and commercial printing markets, the situation in the packaging printing and functional markets is more optimistic.

North American Packaging and printing market are still buoyant, but confidence has started to slip in Europe and everywhere else.The developing world is held back by fears of political instability and corruption, while the developed world is nervous about the inevitable cyclical downturn.The market is under pressure to make profits, but more and more outstanding companies are countering this pressure by continuing to innovate.Investment plans remain strong as printers and suppliers realize they must remain competitive.

These findings come from the seventh major annual survey released last fall to the Drupa Expert Panel of Senior Decision makers, a group of printers and exhibitors recruited from Drupa 2016 and managed by PrintFuture (UK) and Wissler & Partner (Switzerland).Nearly 600 printers and nearly 200 suppliers participated in the survey, with representatives from nearly all regions.

More than 17 percent of printers around the world described their company’s economic condition as “good,” compared with companies that reported their operations as “poor.”For suppliers, the positive net balance trend was even more robust, at +32%.But after a long and slow recovery from the recession of August 2007, confidence apparently peaked in 2017 and has since taken a more cautious approach.

As always, the dynamics vary from market to market and region to region.The packaging and printing market sector is the most dynamic, followed by the functional market, followed by the commercial and printing markets.In fact, more and more commercial and print houses are diversifying into the other two markets.Financial indicators confirm these trends, with all segments of the market struggling for profits and the publishing industry showing a marked decline in revenues.

Throughout the seven years since the Drupa Global Trends report was published, the North American market has remained active.Confidence in Europe had been rising until 2018 and has since fallen, while confidence has been declining everywhere else.While in many cases, vendors have the advantage of being able to serve a wider range of markets and regions, their revenue is dependent on their customers, both in terms of region and market.

“In recent years, printers have responded to the constant pressure on margins by increasing turnover and minimizing costs,” commented Sabine Geldermann, global director of Messe Dusseldorf’s Drupa and Printing Technology Fair. “We can clearly see that while continuing to reduce costs,Printers are also increasingly realizing that they need to innovate — by introducing new products and services in existing markets, or by entering new markets.”

As a result, investment plans remain strong, with most printers across the region reporting increased capital expenditure in the coming year and a few reporting a decrease.In terms of market sectors, the overall market balance remained positive after these investments were increased, with the packaging and printing market the strongest, followed by the functional market, commercial market and publishing market in order.

Finishing was the most popular investment, followed by printing technology, followed by prepress/workflow/management information systems.While finishing plans vary too widely to be predictable, we can comment on planned investment in printing technology.Digital toner single-page color is the most popular, followed by sheet-fed offset printing, but there are great differences between markets.

Richard Gray, director of operations at PrintFuture, said: “For the first time, we surveyed the broader socio-economic pressures and the report revealed two clear trends across the globe.Developed regions are primarily concerned with the risk or fact of a national or regional economic recession, followed by a global trade war, and the impact of global warming/environmental pressures.In the developing world, the main concern is corruption and political instability, and the resulting economic decline.We now have to take into account the implications of Novel Coronavirus, which everyone is concerned about, but which were not present at the time of this report.”

Having experienced the last severe recession, the printing industry is well placed to weather the global slowdown, despite being affected by the new coronavirus epidemic.The key difference is that in most markets, industries have adapted their business models to meet the challenges of the digital communications industry.To stay ahead, investment is the key.

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