Typically, the summer months are quiet for the ink industry, as people take some time off for vacation. However, the past few months have been anything but restful: drupa is now in the books, while increasing pressure from price increases throughout the supply chain as well as higher operational costs put more pressure on ink manufacturers.
Our August issue reflects these two themes. On the one hand, there is much optimism from drupa 2008, as ink companies showcased their latest innovations and services. I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss at length the state of the ink industry with four key industry leaders – Rudi Lenz, president and CEO of Sun Chemical Corporation; Charles Knott, CEO of Flint Group; Herbert Forker, CEO of Siegwerk; and Kunio Sakuma, president and CEO of Toyo Ink Manufacturing Co., Ltd. – and their thoughts can be found within the drupa Report, beginning on page 28.
One of the main themes in their conversations is the impact of higher raw material prices on the ink industry. This topic is clearly the most important subject today, as the price of crude oil hovers at $140 a barrel, sending financial shock waves throughout the world. In the Top International Ink Companies Report, which begins on page 16, industry executives worldwide report that they had to issue price increases to try to make up a portion of the higher costs they are facing.
The pressure is continuing. In our Fresh Ink section beginning on page 8, we report on higher prices as well as surcharges being issued by Sun Chemical, Flint Group, hubergroup, Central Ink and Fujifilm Sericol; undoubtedly, other companies are also increasing their prices as well, which is desperately needed by the industry.
In the midst of all of this, I am reminded of the innovations at drupa. There were a host of new products on display, many of which are aimed at helping printers become more environmentally friendly. Some of the new technologies, such as LED-curable inks, conductive inks and metallic inkjet inks, offer intriguing possibilities.
This is an undoubtedly difficult time for the ink industry and its suppliers, and it is unclear when and even if the raw material situation will improve. Still, developing innovative products and services will ultimately be the key to success for ink manufacturers in the coming years.