“The Indian ink industry has not hiked the prices by 30%”

RY Kamat, director-sales, Micro Inks, says 2015 will be the year which will open up a wide scope for UV inks, and food packaging inks like non-toluene inks for flexible packaging

11 Feb 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

The Vapi-based printing ink major has put its best foot forward, and will be visible at PrintPack 2015 with its top five products: Inkredible for sheetfed inks; Good News for coldset offset; Revolution for the heatset process; the New V Series UV inks and Geiko for flexible print.
Kamat talks to Noel D’cunha about the consumption patterns for high quality inks and the impact of crude prices on inks.
Noel Marshall D’cunha (NMD): What is the 12-month update in terms of ink usage?
RY Kamat (RYK): We see a growth trend. Ink consumption has increased in few segments like flexible while other segments like publications, offset printing is in a decline cycle.
NMD: What about new plants and expansion plans?
RYK: Few expansions have taken place among large and medium ink companies. New plants have come up mainly in Gujarat. As a result, competition in the ink industry has increased. This has resulted in business getting shared among the existing players as well as the new players.
NMD: You are the president of the ink association (AIPIMA), and have been vocal about government policy. What do you think are the important and relevant government notifications that would impact ink makers?
RYK: The new government will be presenting its first budget in February 2015. And so, we need to wait and see the impact on our industry. However, from a broad  perspective, I wish to say the business is in a conducive atmosphere with healthy competition.
NMD: India continues to have 71% of the printers with single and two colour machines in offset. And, even today, 75% of the ink business volumes come from the C-segment with the price range of Rs 525 per four-colour set. This is a segment where quality is unheard of or not affordable. What kind of techno-commercial trends are we seeing in this segment?  
RYK: We agree with your observation. We wish to inform that the current trend is this. At a given price whoever gives the best quality (unheard of price, 10 years), is the winner. Now, can you guess who the winner is?
NMD: Your guess is as good as mine.
RYK: Well ... All large as well small ink company are making a massive effort to offer quality and cost matrix products to satisfy the market. The point is, our customers have the choice, and they demand to get the best value from this segment
NMD: Mr Kamat, price remains a main heartburn. A few months ago, there was an ink price hike, due to the rising costs of key raw materials, by up to 30%. Now, there is a drop in price. Why are prices - at least for newspaper houses, where TOI purchases 10,000 tonne and DB 6,000 tonne of coldset colour and coldset black inks - not being reduced?
RYK: At the outset, I wish to clarify that ink industry did not enhance prices by 30% during 2014. Yes, a minimum incremental rise was done. The ink industry always takes a right view of the situation arising due to raw material prices. We have been the first to react with softening of the prices across all segments.
NMD: How do you, as president of AIPIMA, assess the ink price trends in India?
RYK: Perhaps the trend will have an impact based on crude and on the rupee versus dollar fluctuation on the graphics industry inks. Meanwhile, the flexible industry ink predominantly depends on solvent price fluctuations, in addition to core raw material like pigments.
NMD: You mentioned gravure inks. One trend, we notice is, in gravure printing, most of the players works with Indian-fabricated six-colour machines. The main problem is: no one observes the basics of flame proof environment or efficient health systems. How (and when) will we overcome this mindset?
RYK: Of late, the trend is changing. Promoters or press owners are investing on their hardware and sourcing the latest and the best in the class to ensure that they stay afloat in their businesses. They also upgrade themselves with safety and environment systems. I think, they are ready to take on competition from multinationals at the global level. Many printers whose plants I have visited are getting into better ink systems which are health-friendly.
NMD: The Micro-Huber plant in Vapi and Silvassa adheres to production, safety and management systems. It’s very impressive. Your comment.
RYK: It was created when we built a world class plant with a view to be a global player in the business. In accordance, to the vision of founding fathers, they created an infrastructure, where the safety and management system was implemented long ago.
NMD: What tips do you have for a print firm in India who wants to improve its business performance
RYK: During the recent Print Summit by BMPA in Mumbai, all the speakers shared valuable tips to a gathering of 700 printers. To paraphrase the Summit takeaway, all I can say is, create trust and be a valuable partner through quality matrix and cost matrix.
NMD: And finally, how are the preparations for the AIPIMA show and conference in February? What are the highlights?
RYK: Asia Coat & Ink 2015 and  the International conference are the two important events for AIPIMA. The entire AIPIMA governing body members are doing their best to make it a grand printing ink show. We are expecting a good turnaround for both the shows. As you know “trends: the way forward” is the theme for the events. We have invited renowned speakers among print buyers, publications and packaging industries to address our esteemed gathering. I think the interactions with CEOs from leading printing ink companies will be vital in terms of getting an insight into the ink industry.n