AKRON, OHIO (June 4, 1:15 p.m. ET) — The North American thermoforming market will undergo significant consolidation especially in the lucrative packaging sector, according to a new report by Plastics News. The report also projects company sales growth of 6 percent through 2014.
“Thermoformers Market Review and Outlook 2012” illustrates consolidation activity among 227 companies that served the North American market in 2011. Specifically, the report details the rising market share of the top 10 processors.
In PN's 2012 North American thermoformers ranking, which reflects sales for each company's 2011 calendar or fiscal year, the 10 largest thermoformers made up 63.7 percent of all thermoforming sales, up from 55.8 percent in the 2008 ranking.
The mother of all deals — which closed May 4 — is Dart Container Corp. agreeing to purchase Solo Cup. The combined companies have a market share of roughly 12 percent. Merger and acquisition activity in thermoforming will continue to be fueled by both strategic purchasers and private equity buyers, according to the report.
Reshoring or near-shoring is a trend, though activity is anecdotal. Shepherd Thermoforming and Packaging Inc., for example, tracks reshoring on a company blog.
Todd Shepherd, president of the Brampton, Ontario, firm, highlighted the example of a medical boot. The project required detail and precision, and the previous supplier in China was struggling.
“We were able to not only solve the quality issues but also add some value by doing in-house trimming that saved the customer assembly time,” he said.
It's those value-added services and total solutions that will keep many North American thermoformers competitive against the likes of China and India, according to officials quoted in the report.
For both the packaging and industrial sectors, advances in machinery and materials are making thermoforming an option where it would not have been previously.
Though the segment is relatively small compared to other plastics processes, physical and aesthetic properties achieved via thermoforming make it a viable alternative against projects that may have been injection molded, especially in automotive and medical.
Industrial thermoformers have carved out niches. Those that have reduced debt and aggressively managed their financials are in stronger positions today.
“The challenge becomes how to create new customers where there weren't new customers before,” said John Knight, CEO of Fabri-Form Inc. in New Concord, Ohio.
“Thermoformers Market Review and Outlook 2012” costs $449. The 33-page report includes analysis and five years of data on North American thermoformers. It also profiles the top 30 firms (15 each in the packaging and industrial sectors), and includes perspective from industry leaders.
Company data analyzed include sales and forecasts to 2014 for 227 processors, M&A activity, plant locations, company size by employees, and resin throughput.
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