53721 Siegburg, Germany
Tel: +49 2241-3040
Fax: +49 2241-304777
Sales: €1.079 billion
Major Products: Provider of solvent-based, water-based, energy curable and oil-based inks and coatings and related point-of-use services for the packaging and label industries. Product applications include flexible packaging, labels, folding cartons, corrugated boxes, cups, tubes using flexographic, rotogravure offset and digital printing.
Key Personnel: Herbert Forker, CEO; Dr. Oliver Wittmann, CFO and global purchasing; Ralf Hildenbrand, president Packaging Asia; Dr. Jan Breitkopf, president Packaging EMEA.
Number of Employees: 5,051 in more than 35 countries.
Comments: The packaging segment is enjoying the most growth in printing. With its complete focus on packaging inks, Siegwerk Druckfarben AG & Co. KGaA is also on the rise.
“Our global business fared quite well in 2017 with overall sales growing from €1.060 billion up to €1.079 billion,” said Siegwerk CEO Herbert Forker. “Regardless of a negative sales impact due to the divestiture of our Web Offset business, we could benefit from both organic growth and acquisitions in the packaging segment as well as the resilience of our publication gravure business.”
With an eye on growing its packaging capabilities, Siegwerk has been active on the M&A front.
“In 2017, we have completed several acquisitions significantly expanding our portfolio and further strengthening our position as a full-range provider for packaging applications,” Forker said. “With the acquisition of SCHEKOLIN’s business unit Plastic Tubes and Laminates, we’ve broadened our portfolio by adding specialty UV varnishes suitable for plastic packaging including rigid tubes. We’ve also further strengthened our water-based ink business by acquiring UK-based Hi-Tech Products Ltd., a specialist supplier of high-quality water-based flexo inks for printing on corrugated board packaging, and Van Son Liquids B.V., one of the leading Dutch ink manufacturers of high-quality water-based flexo and gravure printing inks. With Tupahue Tintas, we’ve also added one of the Brazilian market leaders for flexo and gravure printing inks and varnishes to our Siegwerk family, specifically expanding our presence in Latin America.”
Forker noted that 2018 has already started with a very strong top-line performance, especially driven by organic growth.
“Our overall strategy remains focused on packaging printing and the expansion of our market leadership in labels and flexible packaging applications,” Forker continued. “In March 2018, we already reached an essential milestone for this year and significantly strengthened our digital business and inkjet technology by acquiring Agfa’s UV inkjet ink business for the single pass packaging and labels industry.”
The company continues to heavily invest in inkjet inks.
“To further get prepared for the markets of tomorrow, we’ve also opened a new production facility designated for inkjet inks at our Technical Center in Annemasse, France, in October 2017 laying the tracks for further expanding our digital ink offering,” Forker reported.
Another highlight in 2017 was Siegwerk’s new, low migration UV offset ink range SICURA Litho NutriEco, which was awarded Gold status of the “Cradle to Cradle Material Health Certification” by the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA).
“Hereby, we became the first ink manufacturer to market a low migration UV ink range that is suitable for cosmetics and food applications while complying with the highest international environmental research-related product standards,” added Forker.
Raw material prices are heavily impacting the ink industry, and have forced many ink companies, including Siegwerk, to announce price increases of their own.
“The industry has experienced recent sustained cost increases for quality raw materials,” Forker pointed out. “To ensure our customers benefit from continued high levels of quality, service and consistency, it has become necessary to pass on these higher costs. Although we are taking all possible actions to mitigate the effects, there is every indication that raw material supply will continue to be tight and prices will remain at higher levels, and possibly further increase, throughout 2018.”
Forker noted that Siegwerk is constantly working with its technology teams to get as many new sources of raw materials qualified as possible to avoid stock-outs and ensure continuous supply to customers.
“Our teams around the world are also working on how we can reverse engineer certain formulas so that we can produce certain materials on our own,” he added. “We for example internally produce polyurethane (PU) resins instead of purchasing them from third parties, which saves us money and allows us to create PU-based inks, which provide the exact desired result for our customers. We have PU production facilities in Annemasse, France, and Bhiwadi, India, but we also produce with partners in the US, South East Asia, China and in other European countries.
“We are also working on understanding the chemical composition of many raw materials,” he said. “This allows us to work with our suppliers on developing raw materials especially suited to our needs. With our Technical Supply Development teams in China and India, we, for example, have been developing suitable pigment grades that are created directly for Siegwerk and that provide independence, less risk and lower costs at optimal performance levels.”
Regulatory issues remain a serious concern on the packaging ink side, and Forker said that Siegwerk has seen heavy impacts due to the third tier of European REACH legislation, especially targeting low volume chemicals like photoinitiators that are used in UV curing inks.
“In this context, some widely used photoinitiators have been reclassified as reproductive toxic chemicals into category 1B forcing the phase-out of these substances,” he observed. “This phase-out is a direct consequence of the EuPIA Exclusion Policy appealing to the self-commitment of EuPIA members and substitutes to lower toxicity. This effect comes along with a potential short supply of photoinitiators due to governmental initiatives on environmental legislation and coinciding with major incidents at chemical plants in China.
“Even though regulatory activities on printed food contact materials, which were initially announced in Europe, have not materialized in concrete draft legislation yet, the packaging chain in Europe is already actively coordinating an industry position,” Forker noted. “Likewise, there are similar activities in Asia, especially in China, that also haven’t come to a conclusion yet.”
As for 2018, Forker expects packaging printing to gain further momentum this year.
“Growth is expected to continue at its current pace in the regions of EMEA, North America and Asia,” he added. “Latin America is expected to further recover and get back on track. Flexible packaging and narrow web will see the most growth in the market with an increase in industry standards, especially with regards to consumer and employee safety as low migration and toluene-free solutions gain share worldwide.
“Digital printing and UV/EB offset printing will also gain market share as it enables manufacturers to react even faster to specific customer requirements,” Forker continued. “It also addresses the growing short-run demand driven by brand owners looking for regionalization and personalization of their packaging. We have already seen a gradual volume switch from conventional UV to migration optimized UV inks in the printing market. LED UV curing will continue to be one of the growth drivers throughout the printing industry. Further expansion of LED UV ink applications will enable printers to use these inks for the full range of products.
“We headed into 2018 with ambitious goals to continue growing our strong position within the packaging market. We are focusing on differentiation via innovation and digitalization to build new business opportunities while further invest in our infrastructure, technology and personnel to promote long-term growth for our future. By continuing to produce high-quality products and by providing exceptional guidance and support, in terms of ink room management, color matching and product safety, we anticipate continued growth throughout 2018 and beyond,” Forker concluded.