The Asia-Pacific Ink Report

By David Savastano, Editor | 07.27.13

As the printing industry grows, ink manufacturers continue to see increased sales in the region.

For printers and ink manufacturers alike, the Asia-Pacific region is the fastest-growing region. Ink World estimates that the region has $4.4 billion in ink sales annually, making it the largest region in terms of ink sales. In particular, China and India are huge growth areas.

Not surprisingly, virtually all of the largest international ink manufacturers have extensive operations in Asia-Pacific. In Ink World’s 2013 Top International Ink Companies report, the impact of the region is clear: Of the 20 companies listed with more than $90 million in sales, six (DIC Corporation, Toyo Ink, Sakata INX, T&K Toka, Tokyo Printing Ink and Dainichiseika Color) are based in Japan, and all have sizable operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Three companies (Yip’s Chemical Holdings, Xinxiang Wende and Letong Chemical) are headquartered in China. (China’s ink market will be covered in-depth in Ink World’s September-October 2013 issue).

Other ink industry leaders are also active in the region. Flint Group and Siegwerk have operations in the Asia-Pacific, and Huber Group has a major presence in India, having acquired India’s leading ink manufacturer, Micro Inks, in 2005.

Toshihiko Fukunaga, international operations division general manager for Sakata INX, said while the overall economy did not expand as much as it has in previous years, Sakata INX grew its sales in 2012 as printing in the region expanded.

“We did not see stronger growth in this region due to the impact of the European monetary crisis,” Mr. Fukunaga said. “However, the demand for printing in developing countries continues to expand, especially the printing and printing ink market for packaging. Printing ink sales in Asia increased nearly 24%, and our operating income increased.”

“The Southeast Asian market has retained its high economic growth rate, and the general consumer goods market grew due to market expansion and changes in food culture,” said Yu Adachi of Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co.. Ltd. “In particular, demand for packaging gravure inks increased. The Toyo Ink Group has, thus far, pushed forward with the localization of gravure ink production and advanced the development and introduction of products suited to regional needs. In line with this strategy, the Group broke ground on new gravure ink factories in Vietnam and India at the end of last year. Moreover, we plan to further bolster our gravure ink business in Indonesia and promote the expansion of production bases throughout Southeast Asia.”

Toyo Ink has been active in setting up joint ventures in pigments. In April 2012, Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co., Ltd. and Yabang Investment Holding Group Co., Ltd. set up a joint venture in Jiangsu Province, China to strengthen sales of pigments in China and overseas. In January 2013, Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co., Ltd. announced the establishment of a pigments joint venture in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, India in collaboration with Heubach Colour Pvt. Ltd., with the goal of strengthening sales of Toyo Ink’s pigments in India and overseas.

“In 2012, the Toyo Ink Group also set up alliances in the pigment business with partner companies in China and India,” Mr. Adachi added. “The new companies will supply organic pigment products that are highly competitive in the international market in terms of performance, quality and price, to customers in local and overseas markets.”

Mr. Fukunaga said Sakata INX had its best growth in Indonesia, India and Vietnam.

“The strongest growth countries were Indonesia, India and Vietnam,” Mr. Fukunaga said. “Packaging ink in Asian countries is showing the strongest product growth.

“We consider China and India to be very important markets in Asia for future potential expansion,” Mr. Fukunaga added. “Both countries have shown increases in packaging ink and offset ink sales.”

“China and India are strategic growth countries for the Toyo Ink Group across all our business segments, and we have been rapidly developing our operations in both countries,” said Mr. Adachi. “Due to ongoing market expansion and changes in consumer lifestyle in both nations, we believe the packaging field will grow to even higher levels, making China and India attractive growth markets. We also plan to launch a sales and color-mixing base at Chengdu Toyo Ink Co., Ltd. (inland China) by the fall of 2013 with sights set on gravure ink production here at some point in the near future.

“In Delhi, we established a new manufacturing site for gravure inks at the end of last year,” Mr. Adachi noted. “At present, sales volume is showing favorable growth and is expected to show a rising trend in the future. The Toyo Ink Group also plans to start production of offset inks at its second offset ink factory in western India (Gujarat), by spring of 2014.”

Siegwerk sees opportunities as well, and is adding new blending centers in the Philippines and in Vietnam to its 24 present facilities in the area to be even closer to its customers in the Southeast Asia region.

Mr. Adachi said that Toyo Ink views the gravure ink market as critical to its opportunities in the region, with UV another segment with strong potential.

“The gravure ink market in China and Asian region are key markets for our future growth,” Mr. Adachi said. “With regard to the largest market segment in growth regions, we will continue to develop gravure inks that meet the market demand for high efficiency and high quality, and pursue market cultivation and marketing-led business expansion. In addition, we will make further improvements to our global SCM system for raw material and product procurement among overseas operating units, maximizing synergies throughout the Group. In UV offset printing, the Toyo Ink Group expects to see expanded sales of high-sensitive UV (low-power UV-curable) inks for energy-efficient printing systems.”

UV is also an area of growth for T&K Toka Co. Ltd., which specializes in UV: the Tokyo-based company, whose joint venture Hangzhou Toka Ink is the second-largest ink company in China, enjoyed 9.4% sales growth in 2012.

Environmentally friendly products are growing in demand, and both Toyo Ink and Sakata INX are responding to these needs.

“Responding to rising demand for environmentally conscious products from the printing market, the Toyo Ink Group has developed and expanded sales of eco-friendly ink products such as non-VOC sheetfed, high-sensitive UV (low-power UV-curable), water-based inkjet and water-based gravure,” Mr. Adachi added.

“Environmental regulations have strengthened in developing countries such as China, so the demand to produce environmentally friendly inks is increasing,” Mr. Fukunaga said.

Mr. Adachi said that the Toyo Ink Group sees great potential for growth in the Asia Pacific, and is working to step up global development in the region.

“We seek to further expand supply capacity in strategic growth regions, expanding production bases and developing products suited to local needs,” Mr. Adachi added.

Overall, Mr. Fukunaga sees excellent opportunities throughout the region.

“As for China, we see expansion for ink demand despite political issues and competition with local suppliers,” Mr. Fukunaga said. “In India, we are expanding production and sales to meet domestic demand. It is a very important country in our plans to develop markets in the Middle East and Africa.”