Amaplast, the Italian association representing the manufacturers of plastics and rubber processing machinery and molds, said 2022 was one for the books, closing with sales of 4.67 billion euros ($5 billion) its second-highest ever.
The numbers topped sales in 2021 by 5 percent, driven almost wholly by exports, Amaplast said. Exports were with 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion), despite the combined impacts of adverse geopolitical conditions, raw material and component shortages — impacts that are still being felt to the present day and this year joined by skyrocketing energy costs.
Italy exports some 70 percent of the plastics and rubber processing machinery and molds it produces, according to the Amaplast figures. The main destinations are Europe, Asia and the Americas.
In 2022, exports to Europe rose 8 percent compared with the year before; for the Americas, sales rose 12 percent, mainly thanks to South America, which grew 33 percent overall, with peaks mainly for Brazil and Colombia, Chile and Peru. Sales to the United States were down 3 percent but those to Mexico rose 35 percent.
Exports to Asia grew 9 percent, with sales to India jumping 24 percent compared with 2021. Sales to China, however, decreased 7 percent. In the Middle East, where overall a plus of 11 percent was achieved, Saudi Arabia sales grew 35 percent and the Emirates, up 58 percent, became the regions to watch.
The picture in Africa was a divided one: exports to North Africa fell by 24 percent on average while the sub-Saharan markets grew by a similar percentage.
Interesting too, is the development by product category; where machines for primary processing showed healthy growth: extruders were up 23 percent and mono-multifilament systems grew 58 percent, the latter representing sales of a record 140 million in 2022. Exports of injection molding machine were flat compared to 2021, while blow mouding systems and thermoforming machines were downright poor, dropping 19 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
Amaplast is forecasting a 7 percent rise in orders for the first quarter of 2023, compared to 2022 and a 6 percent growth in sales, once again, fueled by sales abroad.
Given the current uncertain economic and political concerns, the rest of the year is anyone’s guess. While energy costs have somewhat stabilized and the availability of raw materials and components has improved, the impact of the recent bank crisis remains to be seen.
The Italian industry is, however, looking forward to the return of PLAST this year, after a five-year hiatus. Normally held every three years, this major show for the plastics and rubber industry will take place Sept. 5–8 at the Fiera Milano Rho fairgrounds, in Milan.