ASSAGO, ITALY (Dec. 21, 1:30 p.m. ET) — Italian plastics and rubber machinery makers experienced 11.1 percent sales growth in 2011, with production value rising to 4 billion euros from 2.6 billion in 2010, according to the country's machinery association Assocomaplast.
Italian export value grew more strongly than overall production value, by 19.3 percent from 2.01 billion euros to 2.4 billion. The value of imports grew by only 5.9 percent from 567 million euros to 600 million.
The domestic market has also been relatively weak, growing from 2.16 billion euros in 2010 to 2.2 billion in 2011.
Germany headed the list of export markets with sales of 253.1 million euros. The association claims Russian, Polish and Turkish markets for Italian machinery have grown strongly as a result of the machinery producers having paid particular attention to these areas, such as participation at the recent plastics fair in Istanbul. These efforts will continue at the Interplastica fair in Moscow in January, where around 60 Italian plastics and rubber machinery producers will exhibit.
In Western Europe, growth was faster in France with the Italian machinery posting 29.1 percent growth to 109.2 million euros.
Export sales to China grew 22.3 percent to 104.3 million euros.
Sales in Mexico grew 26 percent to 49.8 million euros, while U.S. sales grew just 11.2 percent to 80.4 million euros.
Exports of injection molding machinery grew 55 percent, while extrusion machinery sales grew 26 percent. While sales of mono and multiple filament machinery, as well as thermoforming machinery, almost doubled in 2011, Assocomaplast points out that these types of machinery represent a relatively modest proportion of the total.
While not giving figures, Assocomaplast says that the most recent survey of its members showed just under 50 percent of the companies as having experienced a decline in incoming orders.
The association adds that it is concerned especially in export markets about Italian producers having less favorable credit insurance under the country's SACE scheme, in which the Italian ministry of economic development has a major shareholding, than the equivalent Euler Hermes and Coface schemes in respectively Germany and France. Asscomaplast's member companies have asked the association to intervene here with both SACE and the ministry, especially as SACE has had large surpluses in its annual accounts in the past few years.
Assocomaplast's growth has turned out much lower than for competing German plastics and rubber machinery producers. In December, VDMA — the German Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association — raised its forecast for 2011 sales growth up from 18 to 22 percent, with a new all-time high in turnover of just under 6 billion euros in sight for 2011.