ERA's 2004 gravure in packaging conference highlighted moves to serve the growing Eastern European, Russian and EU accession countries' markets
A record audience of 140 for a European Rotogravure Association packaging event gathered in Freiburg, Germany, for a packed programme of innovation, marketing moves and plant visits bearing out the ERA’s confidence in rotogravure print more than holding its own in the flexible packaging market. The organization currently quotes the process as having a 30 per cent share of this sector globally (flexo: 55 per cent). And, for what is seen by many as a mature printing process, innovation clearly still abounds.
Running through the event was an increasing interest in the markets of the former eastern European countries. “Chemosvit bridges the gap between the EU and Eastern Europe,” said chairman of the major Slovakian converter Michal L’ach. Privatized in 1994, the company boasts profits of e4.7M and exports nearly 75 per cent of its production to Russia, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine. And in a move to find even lower cost areas of production it has recently opened a joint venture converter in India.
At Svit, in Slovakia, the company has facilities for gravure and flexo print, metallization, laminating and coating, film production, and bag making. And in Luck, in the Ukraine, it has invested for the last 10 years in Luckplastmas. It has Rotomec and Cerutti presses and in a short while will decide about another two new gravure presses and one flexo press.
More recently it has begun developing a plant in Russia – currently flexo. “But we are developing plans for rotogravure at another plant in Russia,” said Michal L’ach. “There are currently 35 rotogravure presses in Russia as opposed to 280 flexo presses. Some sources say that annual growth of flexible film demand in Russia is between 10 and 20 per cent.”
In his swansong as board member for the packaging sector of ERA, John Durston (who retires from Amcor Flexibles this year) also stressed the importance of the Russian market. As reported in Converting Today November, he announced his company’s plans for the opening of a plant to produce gravure printed packaging films from next August. €25M in being invested at the Novgorod greenfield site some 500km from Moscow and 200km from St Petersburg. The first phase includes plans to install two gravure presses, a solvent-free laminator and three slitters. The site is expected to produce more than 100Mm2/year
“Manufacturing in Russia is a challenge, but for us it is a strategic necessity. It will be a blueprint for further expansion,” he said. “There is under-capacity in Russia for high quality gravure printing with most local suppliers printing only in flexo.” The investment is, in part, a response to requests from several multinational customers for the company to produce locally for their own Russian operations. It will also avoid import duties and logistics problems.
In a fascinating examination of the future for the accession countries, Dr Gernot Nerb, of the Ifo Institute, concluded: “There is a strong link between general economic development and the packaging market. In Eastern Europe (ACC) one per cent growth is on average associated with a two per cent increase in the packaging market. The reason for the high elasticity is the fact that per head package consumption in Poland as well as in the average of the Eastern European accession countries is currently around 78kg compared with about 150kg in Western Europe.”
He continued: “In the past 10 years economic growth in ACC has been significantly higher – about 1.5 – 2.5 percentage points – than in the old EU member countries. And this gap is expected to continue in coming years. Despite this catching-up process, GDP per head in the average of ACC countries is only about 40 per cent of the EU average. It will rise to about 60 per cent by 2040.”
Of real significance to all converters was his conclusion on the growth of packaging.” According to the Polish Packaging Research and Development Centre packaging consumption in Poland will be rising at about 13 per cent per annum over the next five years. Even if this figure appears to be somewhat on the high side, growth of 8-10 per cent appears to be realistic both for Poland and the average of ACC countries.”
Most recent of Janoschka’s plants – Janoschka Pavlovsk – is located near St Petersberg. It features automated processes for the provision of prepress services for the growing Russian market.
Delegates to the ERA conference visited Janoschka’s headquarters in Kippenheim, where they toured around the plant that currently produces 30,000 cylinders/ year with sales worth €24M. With 25 companies in 11 countries, the group produces 150,000 gravure cylinders from 90 engraving machines.
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