DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — The VDMA association of German plastics and rubber machinery producers has revised its 2014 sales forecast downwards to 3 percent, after a previous optimistic forecast at the K 2013 last year that turnover would rise 6 percent in 2014.
The revision still points to sales of 7 billion euros ($9.4 billion) in 2014 and is expected to be followed in 2015 by 4 percent growth to 7.3 billion euros ($9.8 billion).
The association's chairman Ulrich Reifenhäuser presented the 2014 forecast and 2013 results at VDMA's annual members conference in Düsseldorf on June 13.
There is a mixed picture in terms of the level of incoming orders that were reported in January-April 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. Orders grew by 6 percent overall, but this figure arises from strong 19 percent growth in both Germany and the Eurozone, while growth in orders from outside Germany was poor at just 3 percent. Non-Eurozone European orders were down 1 percent.
“The very strong growth in Germany has surprised me personally,” Reifenhäuser said. “The Eurozone growth represents recovery from a very low level, but there is still ‘steam' in it.”
Reifenhäuser presented a curve of order intake and turnover in the period 2005-2014 that shows much less volatility since 2011. He said this phenomenon showed “a really stable and successful phase” for the industry.
The worldwide production value of core plastics and rubber machinery rose 2.6 percent to a new record of 30.6 billion euros ($41.4 billion) in 2013, with China accounting for the largest 30.4 percent share, compared with Germany at 22.2 percent (up a little from 21.9 percent in 2012). Italy slipped for the fourth consecutive time since 2009 from an 8.3 percent share to 8.1 percent, but the U.S. share increased slightly from 6.4 percent to 6.6 percent in 2013.
Reifenhäuser put Italian producers' woes down to the present and continuing Euro crisis in the country, and their exports have not only failed to provide compensation, but also are losing ground. Although the fall in Japan's share from 6.0 percent to 4.4 percent in 2013 seems dramatic, Reifenhäuser pointed out that Japanese machinery producers are in fact doing well — the 4.4 percent share is expressed in Euro terms, which is affected by the recent enormous 25 percent fall in the yen/euro exchange rate.
Due to the importance of the domestic market for Chinese producers, Germany held its position as the top exporting country in 2013, with a 24.5 percent share of 18.9 billion ($25.6 billion) total world exports — down 2.5 percent from 19.4 billion euros ($26.2 billion) in 2012. China was second with 12.3 percent, followed by Japan 9.9 percent, Italy 9.1 percent and the U.S. 5.7 percent, having lost some share compared with 6.1 percent in 2012.
German core machinery turnover rose 3.9 percent to 6.8 billion euros ($9.2 billion) in 2013. Overall industry turnover increased by 5.1 percent to 9.9 billion euros ($12.5 billion), which includes molds and dies, material and parts handling and flexographic film printing machinery. The molds and dies business experienced 6.6 percent growth to 2.1 billion euros ($2.8 billion) — injection molds alone grew 8 percent — while material/parts handling had 6 percent growth to 798 million euros ($1 billion).
By contrast, there were declines in 2013 turnover in major core machinery areas: injection molding machinery (down 0.4 percent), extrusion machinery and lines (down 17.6 percent), blow molding machines (down 7.1 percent) and thermoforming machines (down 6.1 percent). But presses did well with a 31.1 percent increase to 160 million euros ($216.6 million).
Germany machinery exports increased 4.3 percent to a value of 4.6 billion euros ($6.3 billion) in 2013, with China the main destination and driving market at 856 million euros ($1.1 billion), a 33.7 percent increase from 2012. China was followed by the U.S. at 630 million euros ($853 million), up 15.5 percent.
Reifenhäuser said he was “slightly surprised” at Russia having maintained its third place in 2013 with 219 million euros ($296 million) in sales, up 6.4 percent, but “order intake from there has been falling during the past few months.” Brazilian growth of 13.8 percent to 163 million euros ($220.7 million) resulted in the country rising from sixth to fourth place, while 11.5 percent growth to 155 million euros ($209.8 million) brought Mexico up from seventh to sixth place.
Reifenhäuser also said he was surprised at the 29 percent growth in German machine exports to the United Kingdom which reached 140 million euros ($189.5 million) in 2013, elevating the U.K. from tenth to eighth place. He described this as “a symbol of European revitalization” in comparison to other countries where demand has remained weak.
There were declines in German exports to: Poland, down 11.3 percent to 156 million euros ($211.2 million); France by 3.2 percent to 148 million euros ($200.4 million); Austria by 2 percent to 126 million euros ($170.6 million); and Turkey by 2 percent to 115 million euros ($155.7 million).