This week marks a sure sign that the calendar year is coming to an end. Not the return of Christmas music to your local radio station: Our Plastics News ranking of North American blow molders.
November brings our last sales-based processor ranking for this year's editorial calendar. This year we are ranking 120 companies with total related sales of $19 billion. This week's print issue has the top 100, however, all firms appear online.
Sales are based on companies' fiscal year ends, so most are for the 2020 calendar year. Total sales were up 1.8 percent compared to our previous ranking. But as some companies merge or drop off our list and others join for the first time, it can be a little misleading to compare totals year over year.
To avoid confusion over the number of companies counted, we use the average sales per company to give an idea of market change. That's where the data gets interesting.
For this ranking we ask our respondents to break out their bottle manufacturing sales vs. "other" segments, which we categorize as industrial. Bottles account for the largest slice of the blow molding sector, by far, at 79 percent of total sales.
Our total sales for bottles in fiscal year 2020 was up 8 percent compared to 2019. Industrial sales, on the other hand, were down 7 percent.
Our research suggests diverse bottle makers and non-automotive industrial molders had the better year in fiscal 2020.
Bottle makers that make only beverage soda bottles saw sales drop a bit, and automotive blow molders saw a big drop, more than 17 percent.
One point of interest is that during the pandemic, we saw a lot of manufacturers providing their bottles for hand sanitizer. I even spied a whiskey maker pitching in.
Speaking of bottles, while looking up websites for this report, I noticed many stock bottles looked familiar to me. Inspired, I did a quick count of products in the master bathroom next to the home office. Turns out I have 33 different sized and shaped bottles on hand, and none of them are proprietary in design.
The biggest news in the ranking was container maker Pretium Packaging LLC's [www.pretiumpkg.com] acquisition of Alpha Packaging Inc. of St. Louis, which puts Pretium into the top 10 for the first time. The company first appeared in our 1997 ranking as Harbison Corp., coming in at No. 33 with $52.5 million in related sales.