The value of the European plastics injection molding industry slumped to 42.6 billion euros ($56.4 billion) in 2009, losing 23 percent of its value from 55 billion euros ($72.8 billion) in 2008, according to a report from Applied Market Information Ltd.
Up until 2008, the sector was growing by around 2 percent per year in terms of polymer volume but the last quarter of that year saw a sharp contraction in the market, which wiped out nearly five years of growth in the space of a few months, according to the Bristol-based market analysts.
The European market has also shifted from west to east. Between 2005 and 2008, polymer demand among central and Eastern European molders grew on average by 7 percent per year while in Western Europe, polymer consumption by molders shrank at a rate of 1 percent per year. More than 12 percent of injection molding sites in Western Europe closed.
Germany was the only Western European country to sustain growth, while the United Kingdom was the weakest market of the entire region.
AMI predicts the industry will return to growth this year, forecasting an expansion in polymer demand of 3-4 percent, driven mainly by developments in packaging applications and specialized areas sectors such as medical.
But the number of firms in this sector will decline as the market will remain competitive because of rising raw material, energy and labor costs.
Copyright 2010 Crain Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.