The Asia-Pacific Ink Market Continues to Grow

By David Savastano, Editor | 08.01.14

While the ink industry expands in the region, increased competition is likely to continue.

Sakata INX opened its new plant in Shiga, Japan, which will manufacture digital inks and specialty products. (Photo courtesy of Sakata INX)
The Asia-Pacific region is the largest geographic region for the ink industry, with major international companies mixed in with domestic ink producers. Five of the eight largest global ink manufacturers – DIC Corporation, Toyo Ink Group, Sakata INX, T&K Toka and Tokyo Printing Ink – are headquartered in Japan.

Asia-Pacific is also the fastest-growing region in terms of the ink industry, with China supplying a large portion of this growth (please see the September-October 2014 issue of Ink World for a more detailed look at the Chinese ink industry).

With its Micro Inks Ltd. subsidiary in India, hubergroup has the leading position in India’s ink market. Ashwani Bhardwaj, management, Asia and North America, said hubergroup believes the entire Asia-Pacific market size for printing inks is around US$5 billion, with India at $750 million. hubergroup places the Japanese ink market at $2 billion.

“hubergroup is the market leader in India,” Bhardwaj said. “We continue to consolidate this position through constant technology upgrades and strong customer support. We consider technology and service as key components of our growth strategy.

“The hubergroup has a strong presence in this region, particularly in countries like India, Australia and New Zealand, South East Asia and the gulf region,” Bhardwaj added. “Because of our well defined product baskets and very reliable product quality, hubergroup is gaining greater acceptance in countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Overall we saw volumes increasing in most segments.

“The printing market in Australia-New Zealand (ANZ) continues to shrink in all segments, including packaging, since many end-users are now sourcing finished packaging materials from other Asian countries,” said Bhardwaj. “The rest of the Asian markets continue to grow, with the highest growth in packaging segment. India, Indonesia and Vietnam are among the fastest growing countries in this region.”

Not surprisingly, there is plenty of growth in the Asia-Pacific for in manufacturers. Toshihiko Fukunaga, International Operations Division general manager of Sakata INX Corp., said there was steady growth in the Asia-Pacific region for Sakata INX Group.

“Sales for the Asia-Pacific region grew 11% in comparison to the previous year,” said Fukunaga. “Among the countries in the region, Indonesia, India and Vietnam displayed remarkable growth. The region also experienced strong growth in the demand for packaging ink.”

“Although the commercial printing market was in a tough situation, demand for packaging increased,” said Hideyuki Hinataya, president of Toka Ink International (Hong Kong) Ltd. “For our sales expansion, we strengthened UV printing inks for packaging of personal care products, foods, drinks, medicines, etc., so our sales are going well. Of course the large printing markets in India and China should have the strongest growth in the region, but Thailand’s market grew strongly through overseas expansion too.”

“In Japan, the overall market has shrunk by 2% compared with 2012,” said Atsushi Egashira, general manager, corporate communications department for DIC Corporation. “The market for publication inks has shrunk compared with 2012, while packaging inks has expanded. The demand for news inks is steady. In the Asia-Pacific region, the overall market has expanded compared with 2012. The demand for packaging inks is especially brisk. India, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam saw strong growth in demand for printing inks, while Australia and New Zealand are weak in terms of demand.”

Egashira noted that overall ink sales for DIC Corporation in Japan were on a par with fiscal year 2012, as an increase in sales of gravure inks offset declines for offset inks and news inks. In Southeast Asia, ink sales rose slightly, bolstered by solid results in all product categories. In India, DIC’s ink sales declined, with offset inks and gravure inks in particular struggling under slowing economic growth. Sales of inks in the Oceania region were on a par with the previous year, as sales of news ink floundered, while sales of offset inks were robust.

“In offset inks, demand in Japan remained sluggish, reflecting a structured recession resulting from ongoing digitalization,” said Yu Adachi, corporate communication department, Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co., Ltd. “In China, growth appeared to slow, but demand rose in Southeast Asia and India, where we focused on strengthening our capabilities to supply products to commodity markets. Sales of eco-friendly inks for packaging applications increased in China and Southeast Asia, and our new gravure inks plant commenced full-scale operations in India.”

Opening New Facilities

With this growth in mind, some leading ink manufacturers are expanding their operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We made an announcement last March that DIC would expand production capacity for packaging inks up to 1,500 tons per year by 2015 in Vietnam to capture growing demands,” said Egashira. “Also, this February, we announced that we set up a regional technical center in Thailand, which is supposed to cover all the Asia Pacific region, in order to provide technical services in an expeditious manner for our customers as well as to adjust products developed in other regiions to the needs of customers in Asia Pacific region.”
“No new facilities have been announced,” Fukanaga said. “However, we did complete construction of new plants in Hanoi (Vietnam), Panoli (India) and in Shiga (Japan) this past March.”
Adachi reported that Toyo Ink Group is adding new facilities in India and China.       
“As part of our regional strategy, the Toyo Ink Group plans to expand our liquid ink business by establishing production bases in inland areas of China,” Adachi said. “Last month in June, we just began operations at a new liquid ink plant in Chengdu. Offset ink production is expected to begin there in January.

“In India, we aim to increase earnings by expanding production capacity for offset inks and liquid inks, and strengthen our colorants business base.,” Adachi added. “ We are also branching out into new markets such as inkjet and UV ink products in the country, and have plans to reinforce inkjet ink production at our facility in Delhi. This month, we will soon be starting up operations at our offset ink plant in Gujarat.”

“India is the main manufacturing base for the hubergroup in this region,”Bhardwaj  said. “We now have our own marketing subsidiaries in these important countries of this region, and in other countries we work through strong local partners. We shall continue to strengthen this model keeping in mind the customer needs.”

Outlook for the Asia-Pacific Ink Industry

Executives are understandably optimistic about the prospects for the ink industry in the Asia Pacific region.

“The Toyo Ink Group aims to develop and expand sales of gravure and flexographic inks for flexible packaging suited to regional requirements,” Adachi said. “We will work to expand our supply capacity in growth regions such as Indonesia through production base expansion and India by establishing new facilities. We will also work to create a greater synergistic effect with the Arets Group. We plan to step up marketing activities in Turkey and Central Asia.”

“As the Japanese market has matured, we do not expect further growth in this market,” Fukunaga said. “There is steady demand related to packaging ink and we believe this will continue to be an important market for us. We anticipate further economic growth in each Asian country. With the increasing population, we expect steady growth in the demand for ink.

“However, even more severe competition in the printing ink industry is projected,” Fukunaga added. “In order to grow and despite the business environment, we intend to increase sales and market share mostly in the middle and high-end printing ink markets.”

“In the near- and longer-term, population and GDP are expected to increase in most countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” Hinataya said. “Although commercial printing may continue decreasing, we have high expectations for growth in the packaging market together with the increasing population and GDP. Also, we anticipate increasing demand for high-end packaging, and expect rising of environmental awareness in the region. Under such business environment, we will continue technical innovation and supplying added-value product to our customers.”

“We expect the total demands in the region to continue steadily growing despite the uncertainty of the economic outlook,” Egashira said. “The packaging ink market is expected to expand at higher than GDP growth rate in India, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. On the other hand, the market in Oceania shows similar trend to North America and West Europe. Therefore, we estimate negative growth in news inks and publication inks there for the time being.”

“We are committed to our customers in this region and we expect strong growth in the coming years,” Bhardwaj said. “With the launch of several new technologies, particularly in UV and packaging, we are very confident of further strengthening our position in the Asia-Pacific region.”