The daunting challenges that the printing ink industry has faced in the past few years are well known to all of us. The slow decline in the publication printing industry has been ongoing for a while now. The sudden surge in crude oil prices that began in 2005 and continued practically unabated for the next few years led to a rapid escalation in raw material prices in virtually every key ingredient for ink manufacturing.
The global recession, which began more than a year ago, was particularly devastating to the ink industry, as its printing customers took a beating, most notably on the publication and commercial side. With demand down, competition ratcheted up.
There has not been a lot of good news for ink companies to report, but there does indeed seem to be some positive news that is on hand. In The Year in Review, which begins on page 14, a few leading ink executives who I spoke with said they have seen their sales rise in recent months, and they are cautiously optimistic about 2010.
Admittedly, very few people in the printing ink industry believe that sales levels on the publication and commercial side will soon approach previous years, and even the most optimistic observer will say that the recovery could quickly be reversed by more bad economic news or another dramatic rise in raw material costs. Still, the improving sales picture does come as a breath of fresh air.
One area that has done well in recent years has been the UV market. In UV Inks Continue to Make Gains in the European Marketplace, Sean Milmo’s report beginning on page 12, manufacturers of inks and equipment discuss the gains being made by energy curing technologies.
Even some suppliers are seeing a turnaround in the market. In Waxes and Additives, which begins on page 24, suppliers of waxes and additives noted that they are seeing some improvement in sales in recent months.
The past few years have been a challenging time for all connected to the printing ink industry and its supply chain, and no one knows for sure what the future holds. We all can only hope that the coming year offers good news for all.
Ink World Editor