There have been major changes occurring throughout the printing ink supply chain, and it should come as no surprise that the pigment industry has seen more than its share of these issues.
In The Pigment Report, which begins on page 26, pigment industry executives I spoke with discussed the events of the past year in their industry, as well as their expectations for the coming years.
On the plus side, most of the companies I spoke with said they had a better year in 2010 in terms of sales, which for the most part recovered most of the losses caused by the recession. There is also growth occurring in the packaging and digital ink markets, which is good news. Unfortunately, the publication printing ink side remains weaker.
It should come as little surprise that the volatility of the raw material market is a huge concern for pigment executives. Key raw materials are in short supply, either due to environmental regulations being tightened in China or products being redirected from the ink industry to larger and more profitable markets. Carbazole violet, titanium dioxide, carbon black, phthalocyanine and copper are just a few of the key ingredients that are proving challenging to pigment and ink manufacturers.
Raw materials are also a concern of European ink manufacturers, as Sean Milmo reports in his column, The European Ink Report, beginning on page 18. European ink companies are doing what they can to reduce the impact of higher costs of raw materials, but they are being forced to pass along some price increases to their customers.
Even with the concerns about raw materials, most pigment manufacturers anticipate a good year ahead. Part of this is due to the economic recovery that is underway, which has led to improved sales during 2010. New technologies are also leading to a sense of optimism. Above all, pigment executives are hoping that some stability comes to the market, which is something everyone throughout the supply chain can certainly agree upon.