34-8 Hon-cho, Itabashi-ku
Tokyo, Japan 173-0001
Sales: $614 million (¥48,484 million) (consolidated).
Major Products: UV offset, letterpress, flexo, news, waterless and screen inks; sheetfed offset inks; web offset heatset inks; waterless offset inks; gravure and flexo packaging inks; water-based varnishes; metal decorating products.
Key Personnel: Hideyuki Hinataya, sales manager of Overseas Sales Division; Hiro Iida, sales representative in charge of America; Hironori Yanagase, sales representative in charge of Europe; Masahiro Kakoi, marketing director; Masanao Kobayashi, technical director.
Number of Employees: 1,500 (consolidated).
Comments: The market for UV inks has been one of the bright spots for ink manufacturers, and T&K Toka (the T&K in the company’s name stands for Technology and Kindness), a UV ink specialist, had a strong year in 2011, as the company’s sales grew 2.8% to ¥48,484 million. However, higher raw material costs impacted profitability.
“Our total sales amount increased, but profit dropped significantly in 2011 compared to the previous year,” said Hiro Iida, sales representative in charge of America for T&K Toka. “This is because of worldwide material price increases as well as the tight raw material supply in Japan due to the earthquake that occurred in March 2011.
“Further, because of tough competitions for cost savings among printers, raising the selling price of printing ink was extremely difficult, and therefore it negatively affected the profit,” Mr. Iida added. “We are afraid, but we will have to keep asking our customers about price increases, and we hope they will give us a kind understanding. On the other hand, there are many printers and partners who cooperated us with the pricing. We are very grateful for them, and we would like to ask them for their continued support.”
Mr. Iida noted that T&K Toka had strong sales of printing inks in Japan, Asia and North/Latin America, especially in the UV ink area. He also said that the efforts of T&K Toka and its partners throughout the supply chain showed the resolve of the company during the March 2011 earthquake
“We believe that this proves that the market trusts our quality of printing ink, service and support,” Mr. Iida said. “Also, we kept supplying our Japanese-made high-end printing ink with our pride and responsibility, even when we were in the toughest situation ever with the impact of the earthquake.
“We know that there were a lot of rumors and thoughts about Japanese-made printing ink going around the printing industry just after the earthquake,” Mr. Iida added. “However, we were able to keep supplying all printing ink with Toka Quality even in such a situation. We believe that Toka Group, our partners and printing companies cooperated very well with manufacturing, logistics and stock control so that we were able to get over the disaster, and we thank them again about all cooperation. Overall, 2011 was the toughest year ever for Japanese companies; however, it was great in that we showed the spirit and pride of ‘T&K’ to the market.”
The UV market has become one of the most profitable niches for printing, and because of their expertise, T&K Toka is perfectly positioned in the field
“All printers seem to be trying to be more specialized, especially with UV technology, and we believe that
we are the best company for UV technology,” said Mr. Iida. “This change is like following the wind for us. We will keep emphasizing our development, and we will keep providing our highest quality printing ink to the market.”
Mr. Iida noted that the number of inquiries about new technologies and higher value printing has been increasing, and that it looks that a lot of printers have been trying these technologies out, such as H-UV printing for packaging.
Ink manufacturers are struggling with the rising cost of raw materials and the impact on margins, and T&K Toka is no exception.
“Increasing material costs are a very serious situation,” Mr. Iida said. “We increased our sales, but our profit decreased a lot. We have been considering changing the materials we use without changing the quality, but it is really difficult to do, so we have been strongly asking our customers about increasing prices.”
T&K Toka has a major presence worldwide. Hangzhou Toka Ink, T&K Toka’s joint venture in China, is the second-largest ink company in China. In 2006, the company opened a new plant at Hangzhou Toka Ink. The company also has operations in Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and a U.S. distributor, Top Level Ink, in Dallas, TX. Mr. Iida noted that T&K Toka will be providing more professional support for its European and American dealers.
“We will send exclusive sales representatives to our main dealers in Europe and America to provide our customers much faster and more specialized service by cooperating with our dealers in each region,” Mr. Iida said.
As drupa 2012 showed, the UV inkjet field is growing quickly, and T&K Toka hopes to utilize its expertise in this sector.
“We are now developing a market for UV inkjet ink,” Mr. Iida said. “We believe that our experience and technology in UV ink can be transferred to the UV inkjet market too. If any press manufacturer is looking for a good solution on the ink side, we hope to cooperate with them.”
T&K Toka puts great emphasis on R&D, and the company launched three key products this past year. The first is UV ink for efficient UV systems such as H-UV from Komori, Dry-Star from Heidelberg and LED UV system. The products are called UV K-HS series (for Komori H-UV), UV L-LES (for efficient UV system other than Komori H-UV) and UV OFS-LED (for LED-UV system).
The second new product is UV 171 SW for the Genius 52UV press, which is listed on KBA’s consumable list. It can be also used on regular UV waterless presses, providing stronger adhesion and higher laminated properties.
The third new ink is the UV VP-S series, which, because of its excellent adhesion, faster curing and high gloss, is very popular in the U.S. for plastic stocks.