Third drupa Global Trends report
indicates optimism of growth in 2016
As the results of the Third drupa Global Trends report have been published, what is inhibiting in the report is that many printing firms in the markets being hit adversely during the economic slowdown in 2008 are now increasingly optimistic about their overall business prospects in 2016, irrespective of tightening margins and falling prices. Such positive vibe in the industry is influencing the plans for their investment in new production equipments.

So far, three annual drupa Global Trends reports have complemented two drupa Global Insights reports, which focus on technical trends and changes. The first of these, The Impact of The Internet On Print—The Digital Flood, assessed the important and effect of new online media. The second report titled Touch The Future – Applications That Can Create Growth was published in November 2015. The three reports have drawn on a global panel of about 750 printers to survey the state of the printing industry and expectations about its future over the three years leading up to drupa 2016.

Invaluable reports

Sabine Geldermann, director, drupa, Messe Düsseldorf, asserted that this year’s drupa is a showcase for the latest developments in the global printing industry. “By commissioning the series of drupa Global Trends reports, we are able to put these new developments into the context of the state of the industry as a whole,” she added. Her point is that anyone visiting drupa this year will find the reports make an invaluable backgrounder.

The research and writing of the drupa reports were handled by Richard Gray and Neil Falconer of Print Future, a specialist consultancy and market research company. “The previous report in 2015 was upbeat in general, globally,” mentioned Richard. He further explained that in the year 2016 the picture is patchier, with some regions thriving, such as North America, others are struggling, including some of the developing regions. Similarly whilst packaging and functional markets are in general doing well, those in the commercial market are more challenged and those in the publishing market particularly so.

More positive 2016

In each report the responses of printers have been gathered and averaged to produce a barometer of economic confidence. Some 37 percent of the global panel of printers described their current condition in 2015 as good, although a significant 12 percent said their condition was poor, giving a positive net balance of 25 percent. Looking ahead, printers were in general more positive with 50 percent expecting their economic condition to improve in 2016 compared to just 6 percent expecting it to deteriorate – a positive balance of 44 percent.

Taken by region, everywhere is more optimistic for 2016 than 2015, but the biggest increases in positive feelings are in Africa, Australia/Oceania, Asia and the Middle East. And taken by sector, all the 2016 forecasts are more optimistic on balance, with commercial and functional (sometimes called industrial) printing showing the greatest increase compared to 2015.

Digital prospects

Observing some 14 common print processes, the report found that, as might be expected, digital technologies are growing fastest (on an average of 28 percent per annum), but that sheetfed offset lithography is also seeing significant growth, particularly in publishing (net positive growth of 7 percent) and packaging (+12 percent). Flexography is also doing very well in packaging (+18 percent), and gravure is also seeing a modest but definite growth (+3 percent) in this sector. Functional printing is a growth area for screen printing (+11 percent), though digital is very important here too.

While the bulk of turnover still comes from conventional print, there is a steady increase in the volume and value of digital print, with the exception of packaging where only 13 percent reported that it represents more than 25 percent of turnover, compared to 35 percent for commercial, 24 percent for publishing and 59 percent for functional. The ability of digital to print variable content is important, with 59 percent of functional printers and 35 percent of commercial printers reporting that more than 25 percent of their digital turnover was variable.

In the overall perspectives, web-to-print seems to have stalled, with only one percentage point of growth from 2014 (25 percent of printers had it) to 2015 (26 percent). Only North America as a region and functional print as a sector saw significant increases in volumes going through web-to-print.

Growth limits

Both printers and suppliers cited strong competition as the biggest constraint to growth, with lack of sales being almost as large a factor. When enquired about the reason, the largest factor (58 percent) was finding new customers, with finding good sales staff second at 35 percent. About 32 percent blamed lack of demand for conventional print, but only 10 percent said the same for digital.

Full report of the Third drupa Global Trends report is released in English, with its executive summary available in seven languages—German, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Chinese at

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