There is no doubt that the past few years have been challenging for everyone throughout the printing ink supply chain. In particular, publication and sheetfed printershave been hard hit by both the recession and the decline in their respective markets, as advertisers looked to cut back on traditional campaigns or moved to the internet.
While the packaging segment fared better than the publication side, the decline in consumer spending had an impact.
On the supply side, ink manufacturers are doing all they can to cope with the volatility of raw materials pricing and availability. In particular, the ability to source certain key raw materials – gum rosin, acrylic acid, titanium dioxide and nitrocellulose, to name a few – is a major concern, as consolidation, plant closings and alternative markets for these products are putting the ink industry at a competitive disadvantage against larger industries.
Still, in speaking with ink industry leaders for our annual Year in Review article, beginning on page 20, there are signs of optimism for the coming year.
Generally speaking, ink companies posted better sales in 2010. Executives share a belief that the worst is over, and while no one expects the commercial and publication printing side to rebound to pre-recession levels, there is a sense of cautious optimism going forward.
However, the raw material market remains the one concern expressed by every ink industry leader. Stability is a word that comes up frequently, as ink executives try to plot their course. However, as Sean Milmo points out in his article on the potential disruption of raw materials in Europe due to REACH, beginning on page 18, there remain serious concerns in terms of supply of important ingredients.
Also in this issue, we look closer at a few key markets, one of which is thriving and the other not so much. The UV/EB report, which begins on page 27, continues to bring good news, and while growth has slowed a bit in recent years, new applications and technologies such as LED curing have good potential. On the other hand, my report on the publication ink market, which begins on page 39, shows the challenges the segment faces.
Overall, one can only hope that 2011 brings better news throughout the industry.
Ink World Editor