As 2011 comes to an end, many ink manufacturers are probably breathing a sigh of relief, as sales were on the upswing in some key markets such as packaging, energy-curing and inkjet inks. Still, publication and commercial inks continue to suffer declines.
However, any sense of relief has to be tempered by serious concerns over raw materials and the future of the global economy.As ink industry executives noted in The Year in Review, raw material costs are increasing on many essential ingredients. Because of the challenges that printers face, ink companies are having a hard time recouping the increases they are facing, impacting their already low margins.
Availability of raw materials is another concern. Some companies are consolidating their facilities or leaving the market altogether, while other manufacturers are finding more lucrative markets for key raw materials. This also leads to price increases.
Still, ink industry leaders are optimistic that 2012 will bring further improvements in sales, barring another recession. As for raw materials, no one really knows what is next.
One message from The Year in Review is that there are areas of growth in the industry, a theme that is echoed throughout this issue. European Editor Sean Milmo noted that the inkjet ink industry is faring well in Europe in his report, “Inkjet Printing Continues Strong Growth in Europe.”
Energy curing also remains a promising area, with LED curing among the new opportunities. In my article, “The UV/EB Report,” UV and EB industry leaders report that the energy curing market continues to grow across the board.
As we head toward 2012, we can only hope that the ink industry, its suppliers and customers also see growth in the coming year.
Ink World Editor