Research company Smithers Pira’s latest market report shows the average value of print increasing despite volumes shrinking.

The report, titled The Future of Digital vs Offset Printing to 2024, says the global output, measured in billions of A4 prints at 49,665 in 2019, will remain static through to 2024. However, in value terms, the print output will grow from US$808.3bn ($1218bn) in 2019 to US$862.7bn in that time 2024, a compound annual growth rate of 1.3 per cent.

Digital print, and especially inkjet, forms an increasingly important and valuable part of the overall print market. Accounting for 13.5 per cent of total market output in 2014, this has risen to 17.4 per cent in 2019. As it has done so, it has displaced and taken work from offset litho and other existing analogue print processes. Technical innovations and shift in market demands will further support this trend through to 2024, pushing digital’s share to 21.1 per cent. This will see digital colonise new spaces in key markets, such as packaging; increase its competitiveness at longer runs with a new generation of high throughput machinery; and offer new revenue streams for print service providers.

Both analogue and digital print production continue to become more efficient, which contributes to improving unit costs. In addition, increasing capabilities in short-run printing and associated downstream converting processes are leading to improved supply chain efficiencies in which print production is closely matched with demand.

Many different factors shape demand across the print industry, and print supply chain participants have a variety of options to draw on when determining how best to meet changing demand patterns.

The role of print also continues to change, with the main dynamic the impact of the Internet and mobile connectivity on the way both businesses and individuals communicate and access information. This affects every segment of the traditional printing business and is changing expectations of what is acceptable in relation to speed, relevance and degree of interactivity of information, irrespective of the medium used.

The report covers the impact of the key drivers affecting demand for offset litho and digital as:

Rising global consumption through a combination of population growth, increased urbanisation and the rise of a global middle class with discretionary spending power

Fundamental changes in the way consumers and businesses disseminate and access information – and the channels used by advertisers – from print to electronic media

Increasingly agile supply chains with on-demand and just-in-time models adopted across print markets

Consumers, businesses, brands and governments demand products and production technologies with improved sustainability and environmental profiles

Growing use of artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things and other Industry 4.0 technologies to enhance the productivity of print processes.

The Future of Digital Vs Offset Printing to 2024 compares digital and offset litho printing over the period 2014–24 in publication, graphic and packaging applications. It looks at trends affecting the demand side of print and printed packaging over these ten-years, and reviews how print production and technology supply chains are responding. You can purchase the full report on the Smithers Pira website.

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