These are challenging times for the printing ink industry, and the printing industry in general. As a result, one might expect a surge in M&A activity throughout the supply chain. The printing industry has seen its share of mergers and acquisitions, as have suppliers to the ink industry.
Surprisingly, the ink industry has not been anywhere near as active in M&A, and 2011 has been even more quiet than usual.
One area to look for changes is the U.S. Ink Directory, Ink World’s annual comprehensive listing of U.S. ink manufacturers, their products and contacts. In recent years, there has been consolidation within the U.S. ink industry, but 2011 was relatively quiet. With the exception of American Inks & Coatings acquiring Graphic Sciences, a water-based packaging ink manufacturer, and a few sheetfed ink company acquisitions, the M&A front in the U.S. was virtually silent.
Internationally, M&A activity was also limited. DIC purchased Pacific Inks, a New Zealand water-based ink specialist with operations throughout the Asia-Pacific, and ALTANA acquired Color Chemie, a water-based ink specialist in Germany, but these are the only acquisitions that come to mind. Essentially, outside of a few medium-sized, water-based ink suppliers, M&A activity was basically non-existent.
The environment is another area of interest heading into 2012. European editor Sean Milmo reviews the concerns about mineral oil usage in inks in “Packaging Converters are Looking To Phase Out Mineral Oils in Inks,”. There is concern over mineral oils migrating into packaged food, and ink companies are watching to see what potential regulatory responses may be coming from European governments.
On the positive side, another area of interest is the growth of the printed electronics (PE) market. As I note in my article on the printed electronics market, there are commercial successes now being reported, with millions of parts being used in areas as diverse as medical diagnostics and printed lighting to automotive parts. Moving forward, PE appears to be an excellent opportunity for innovative companies throughout the printing ink supply chain.
Ink World Editor