This week's Plastics News has our updated ranking of North American thermoformers for the 2021 fiscal year, and what a year it was, with the average sales for companies soaring.
We were able to gather data for 213 companies with combined related sales of $15.9 billion. We asked our respondents to break out their sales between packaging and industrial thermoforming. Those percentages have varied little over time, with 86 percent and 14 percent, or $2.2 billion and $13.7 billion, respectively.
So then, what has changed? Looking at the largest firms on our list, the top 25, we see a 15 percent jump in fiscal year 2021. That is second only to the 18 percent jump we saw back in 2011. In fact, the total reported thermoforming sales this year is nearly triple that of 20 years ago. Our top 3 breakout firms for packaging: Pactiv Evergreen Inc. of Lake Forest, Ill.; Dart Container Corp. of Mason, Mich.; and Sabert Corp. of Sayreville, N.J.
After the surveys came in, I took a preliminary look and found an average packaging gain of 21 percent. Food packaging, including cups and lids, was expected to increase due to the pandemic, with more people dining at home, but really this trickled into all end markets — as seen with the average sales per company gaining 15.7 percent to reach $74.4 million.
Resin pricing played an important role in 2021 as well. Most materials saw large increases, with ABS, polystyrene, polyethylene and, most significantly, polypropylene at 110 percent. Only PET prices fell, down 10 percent.
Nearly all — 90 percent — of our ranked firms gave the number of thermoforming employees. Year over year, it showed an increase of 1,227 jobs, bringing this group's total up to 29,000.
Our biggest gain was rPlanet Earth LLC of Vernon, Calif., up 20 percent and moving up 134 spaces to rank at No. 70. The company cited increased demand for cups and deli containers.