Future for flexo market is USD 181-billion bright

By 19 Sep 2020

Flexo market is set to reach USD 181 billion in 2025 due to increased demand in packaging print, according to Smithers data.

The flexo market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1.6%

The global value of flexographic printing will rise from USD 167.7 billion in 2020 to USD 181.1 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6% at constant prices, according to the latest exclusive research from Smithers.

Data from the market report The Future of Flexographic Printing to 2025 shows this is equivalent to a rise in annual flexo output volumes from 6.73 trillion A4 prints to 7.45 trillion across 2020-2025.

According to the report, the majority of extra demand will come from the dynamic packaging print sector, where new automation and hybrid press lines are giving flexo print service providers (PSPs) greater flexibility and the option to exploit higher-value print applications.

The global Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 will have an impact on growth due to disruptions in the supply chain and consumer purchasing. "This will be compounded changes in purchasing behaviour in the short term. The predominance of packaging work means the flexo segment will rebound from the downturn caused by the pandemic faster than any other analogue process, as graphics and publication print see more severe drops in order volumes," the report mentioned.

As the global economy stabilises, the greatest increase in demand for flexo print will come from Asia and Eastern Europe, the research found. "New flexo press sales are projected to increase at 0.4%, to a value of USD 1.62 billion and a total volume of 1,362 units in 2025; in addition to thriving second-hand, refurbishment, and press enhancement markets," it stated.

Smithers’ exclusive market analysis and survey has also identified some key drivers that will shape the flexo print market over the next five years.

Corrugated board will remain the largest value segment, but the quickest growing applications are in labels and folding carton print. For corrugated substrates, there will be an increase in lower run rates and shelf-ready packaging work. Much of this will be high colour work, with three or more colours, offering a higher return for PSPs.

Additionally, there will be an increase in wide-web installations driven by the continued growth in corrugated and carton production. This will prompt extra sales of sheetfed folder gluers to handle the finishing requirements.

The survey also found that flexo will remain the most cost-effective print process for mid- to long-runs, but continued developments in digital (inkjet and electrophotography) printing will increase market pressures on flexo, to address changing consumer demand. To respond to this – especially for more short run work –  there will be a drive to increase automation of flexographic processes, incremental improvements in computer to plate (CtP) processing, better on-press colour checking and imaging, and use of digital workflow tools.

In addition to that, flexo manufacturers will continue to introduce hybrid presses, the report identified. Typically, the result of a collaboration with a digital print technology company allows the benefits of digital processes, such as variable data printing, to be combined with the speed of flexo on a single platform.

The study also found that enhancement in flexo plate and sleeve technology will improve image reproduction, and minimise press room time taken on cleaning and make-ready. It also highlighted the arrival of more advanced finishing equipment that allow greater print embellishment and sophisticated design effects.

The adoption of more sustainable printing solutions, led by water-based ink sets, and LED UV curing was also some of the key trends observed in the report.

According to Smithers, these trends are analysed in depth in the report and quantified and qualified in a data set covering all major end-use applications, national and regional markets. This is supported by complementary data tracking current and future demand for flexo equipment, inks, and plates and sleeves.

"This represents an essential business strategy tool for any flexo OEM, press operator, or consumable supplier trying to navigate an increasingly unsure commercial marketplace," Smithers noted in a press note shared with PrintWeek. To further aid this all purchases of the report include a copy of Smithers’ new The Impact of Covid 19 on the Printing Industry, giving exclusive market forecast scenarios for how the industry will be impacted by, and recover from, the coronavirus pandemic.

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