This week's issue has our updated ranking of North American thermoformers, for the 2020 fiscal year. We were able to gather data for 217 companies totaling $13.6 billion in related sales.
Broken down by the two major thermoforming categories, 85 percent, or $11.6 billion, was generated from packaging. The remaining $2 billion, or 15 percent, was from industrial thermoforming.
Did thermoformers fair well in 2020? In a way, yes, and in a way, no. That's one of my favorite answers because it's all in the details.
Let's look at last March and April, when many firms had to navigate statewide shutdowns. Once the plastics industry was deemed an essential business, owners needed to follow guidelines to keep their employees and customers safe. Financially, thermoformers took a hit in the first and second quarters. For those firms in our ranking with an early or midyear fiscal year end, the impact on sales was apparent.
Another hit, especially for large-volume commodity items such as food packaging including cups and lids, was the lower cost of virgin polypropylene and PET. Packaging makers passed through those 11 percent and 13 percent declines, respectively.
Looking at the top 25 firms, we see the average sales per company dropped 5 percent compared with 2019. But the average sales per company has still increased nearly 12 percent in the last five years.