For the ink industry, 2013 bore many similarities to 2012. In some ways, that is good news; in others ways, there are causes for concern.
The good news is that ink industry leaders are seeing growth in certain important markets, most notably packaging, energy curing and inkjet. Raw materials, a huge concern in recent years due to pricing and availability, have stabilized, although prices remain high and are likely to continue to remain that way.
For offset ink manufacturers, the bad news is that the market for publications and commercial sheetfed continues to decline, and aren’t likely to return to past levels.
In my article on “The 2013 Year in Review,” which begins on page 21, leading ink industry executives talk about the past year and offer their insights into 2014 and beyond. Generally speaking, they are optimistic about the future, but they are also realistic about the opportunities that are out there.
Unfortunately, the publication printing field is not one of those opportunities. In “The Publication Ink Market,” starting on page 35, the acquisition of Consolidated Graphics by R.R. Donnelley & Sons and the sales of the Boston Globe and Washington Post at low prices that would have been unheard of just a few years ago show the volatility of the publishing and commercial printing markets. For ink makers in that segment, remaining successful is a constant challenge.
Energy curing technologies continue to be a highlight. In “The UV/EB Report,” beginning on page 28, ink industry leaders report that their sales are continuing to grow, driven by the advantages UV and EB offer in production and performance.
If nothing else, the fact that 2013 confirms the trends we saw in 2012 in terms of growth markets and raw materials allows ink manufacturers to better plan for the future in terms of strategy, such as focusing on certain segments while shifting resources away from declining areas. It also allows for some cost certainty in raw materials, at least for the moment.
Ink World Editor