The 8th drupa Global Trends report shows post Covid recovery and resilience in face of fresh challenges.

The results from the survey show an industry that is on average across the globe a little more confident for the future than when last surveyed in 2019, before the pandemic.

The packaging market is strongest, but commercial, publishing and functional markets all show signs of recovery in 2023. Regionally, confidence levels vary. For example, Asia and South America expect better trading in 2023 while Europe is downbeat.

Investment fell during the last two years, but printers and suppliers reported strong plans for capital expenditure. Sabine Geldermann, director for print technologies at Messe Düsseldorf, says, “Printers and suppliers know they must innovate to succeed in the longer term. The shocks of the last two years pegged back investment, but the survey indicates that the industry expects recovery to start in 2023. All regions and markets forecast higher investment in the coming year.”

The 8th Global Trends survey covered over 500 senior decision makers on the part of print service providers and machine manufacturers/suppliers worldwide. Commissioned partners Printfuture (UK) and Wissler & Partner (Switzerland) conducted the survey on behalf of drupa.

Confidence depends on market and region

Globally 18 per cent more printers described their company’s economic condition as ‘good’ compared with those that reported it as ‘poor’. For suppliers the net positive balance was even stronger at 32 per cent. Confidence varies between regions and markets.

The packaging market is thriving with publishing and commercial facing structural changes from digitisation but with signs of confidence returning.  Regionally, a mixed picture sees Europe clearly concerned about the consequences of the Russia/Ukraine war. However, Asia and South/Central America, expect trade to pick up further in 2023 as economic momentum builds post pandemic.

Print volume and investment plans

Analysis of print volume in 2022 by press type, shows continuing decline in sheetfed offset among commercial printers matched by increases among packaging printers. Flexo volumes continue to accelerate for packaging printers, while all markets reported increased volumes using digital toner cutsheet colour and all but publishing with digital inkjet rollfed colour.

Despite the active decline in the volume of sheetfed offset in commercial markets, this was the most popular press type for investment in 2023 across all markets except packaging, where flexo led, followed by sheetfed offset. digital toner cutsheet colour was the second most popular target for all other markets. Finishing equipment is the second most popular target for investment after new presses.

Web to print

The years 2014 to 2019 saw virtually no increase in the proportion of turnover won by web to print installations. However, over the last two years that proportion has risen. Globally, since 2019, it has increase`d from 17 per cent of turnover to 26 per cent.

The global economic market

Socio-economic pressures have a major impact across the globe, although they vary in influence between regions. For example, 62 per cent of printers in Asia chose pandemics as the biggest threat, while in Europe this was chosen by 51 per cent. And while 32 per cent of European printers chose physical wars, this was chosen by only six per cent of those in South/Central America. Instead, 58 per cent of them chose the threat of economic recession. Richard Gray, operations director at Printfuture, says, “Socio-economic pressures are increasingly important to printers and suppliers alike, so much so that 59 per cent thought these were now either as important or more important than print market pressures.”

The global economic market has experienced more shocks in the last two years than at any time since the second world war. Yet this survey shows that print is still a central means of communication in all markets and regions. While there are challenging times ahead, the industry has both the confidence and the determination to succeed. Wise strategic investment will ensure that printers and their suppliers will thrive.

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