After very challenging years with all existing projections and statistics for the future of the global print industry deemed to be fundamentally flawed, it has become all the more important for companies to have the latest trend information to make the right decisions, keeping in mind the rapidly changing and uncertain times.
The significant strategic shifts occurring through consolidation, diversification, mergers, labour shortages, supply disruptions, market specific shifts in demand etc. all need an objective data to understand how these changes can affect the industry and the consequential changes this will have on investment and growth.
The 8th drupa Global Trends report will publish its results in September 2022 amidst a rising confidence in all regions and markets forecasting higher investment in 2023. The findings come from an online survey conducted by Swiss market research and consulting service provider Wissler & Partner and British printer solutions company Printfuture Ltd. as commissioned partners on behalf of drupa. Over 500 senior print service providers, machine manufacturers, and suppliers from across the globe completed an extended survey in spring 2022 (mid-March to mid-June).
The initial findings of the survey shows an industry that is on average a bit more confident worldwide about the future, than when it was surveyed in pre-pandemic 2019. While the packaging market has emerged as a strong winner during the pandemic and post-pandemic period, the commercial, publishing, and functional markets are all showing signs of recovery in 2023.
The report also suggested that there may be regional variations in the level of market confidence. While Asia and South America expect better trading in the coming year, Europe is downbeat, given the war in Ukraine and its ramifications.
Both printers and suppliers reported robust plans for capital expenditure even as investment fell inevitably during the last two years. Sabine Geldermann, Director of drupa and Project Director Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf comments, “Printers and suppliers know they must innovate to succeed in the long term. Though the previous two years have pegged back investment, the survey shows that the industry expects recovery in 2023, with all regions and markets forecasting higher investment in the coming year.”
Despite the survey showing a continuing decline in the volume of sheetfed offset among commercial printers, this has emerged as the most popular press type for investment in 2023 across all markets except flexo-led packaging. While flexo volumes continue to accelerate for packaging printers, digital toner cutsheet colour was found to be the second most popular target for all markets.
The study also dealt with the socio-economic pressures and the global economic market, although they vary in influence between regions. 62% of printers in Asia chose the pandemic as the biggest threat to their business while in Europe the figure was down to 51%. On the other hand, printers in Europe agreed on the ongoing war in Ukraine as the biggest risk, while in Latin America, printers chose the economic recession as the major threat. Richard Gray, Printfuture’s Operations Director says, “Socio-economic pressures are increasingly important to printers and suppliers alike, so much so that 59% thought that these were now either as important as or more so than print market pressures.”
With the global economy going through the threshold of perhaps the biggest shock, post World War II, the survey indicates that print is still a central means of communication in all markets worldwide with challenging times ahead. The study also indicates that the industry has the confidence to succeed and advices wise strategic investments for printers and suppliers to thrive.