Surviving the gloom

29 January 2009

The current global economic meltdown has already sent shockwaves throughout the converting industry. During the past few months, many paper manufacturers, such as UPM and Stora Enso, have shut down some mills. And now the Italian label and packaging press manufacturer Gidue has filed for voluntary winding-up - this despite the fact that 2008 was a record sales year for the company.

In such difficult market conditions, it is important for suppliers to continue to innovate. Despite being hit by recession, Gidue has launched a series of R&D projects, one of which is its Xpannd press, which it says will help companies increase profitability during the market slowdown.

Despite the raging global financial crisis, the Eastern European economies will avoid the recession, says the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies. However, the study warns that the crisis will result in the Eastern European countries experiencing lower economic growth than anticipated. This is due to reduced foreign direct investments and limited access to credit. For now though, the Central and Eastern European (CEE) zone is continuing to attrract investors. In this issue of Converting Today, we look at how the Czech Republic, a small yet strategically positioned country, is becoming the manufacturing hub for both converters and suppliers.

Although the credit crunch and company consolidation are also impacting the speciality paper market, a new Pira International report predicts that the annual growth across the global speciality papers market will be 3.7 per cent to 2013, whilst the flexible packaging market will grow annually at around 2.5 per cent.

Much innovation in the paper and board industry may focus on lightweighting of cartonboard. The EU Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste has placed pressure on retailers to reduce waste by weight, resulting in increased demand for lightweight packaging. We highlight some of the recent innovations in this sector this month.

Whilst it is true that no industry can be totally immune to a global financial downturn, it is undeniable that some industries are and will be better equipped to fight the slump. The packaging sector is one of them. Let's face it - consumers will always need and continue to buy packaged goods. The outlook may be gloomy, but it's certainly not heading towards doom.

Sonali Advani

Sonali Advani

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