AIPIMA seeks to increase the valuation of ink industry in India - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

R Sridharan, president of AIPIMA and Vimal Mehra, past-president of AIPIMA, in this interaction, say, the association is doing all it can to elevate the capabilities of the ink manufacturers, and its status too. “Change must take place if the ink industry has to leap forward; status quo is unsustainable.”

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09 Oct 2022 | By Noel D'Cunha

(l-r) R Sridharan and Vimal Mehra

PrintWeek (PW): Sridharan Sir, the All-India Printing Inks Manufacturers’ Association (AIPIMA), as a representative body of the ink industry in India, has taken up the initiative to help small- and medium-sized ink companies. Is the Association exploring government support for any initiatives?
R Sridharan (RS): Yes, we are looking for the government to support these ink companies by investing in the lab equipments. We are also looking to invite trained people to support this activity.

PW: Can you elaborate?
RS: Indian ink companies lack the resources to invest in R& D, Technology, modern manufacturing process and innovative products to compete with multinational ink companies within India and globally. In addition, there is no independent testing lab in India for testing the quality of printings inks conforming to the required standards globally. We hope to plug these gaps for the Indian ink companies.

PW: The AIPIMA-IIP collaboration?
RS: Yes, we are gearing up with all regulatory compliances to meet the Indian Standard IS: 15495. The Association has recently inked an MoU with the Indian Institute of Packaging to set up a unique printing ink testing lab to enable the micro, small and medium printing ink industries to manufacture printing ink conforming to global standards.

PW: What do you mean by inviting trained people?
RS: We aim to set up an accredited lab in IIP exclusively for printing ink testing. This needs investment, equipment procurement, and manpower to do the testing. We also plan to take up the activity of developing skilled personnel in the field of printing inks, for which there is going to be a huge demand in the years to come. This would excite people with relevant qualifications to look for career growth in the ink industry, and we will be able to invite them to undertake R & D work for their and industry growth.

To accomplish the above, we need educated, experienced, trained and skilled people in the industry to set up the lab and finalise the course content of our skill development activity.

PW: Vimal Sir, what does the printing ink industry in India look like?
Vimal Mehra (VM): According to AIPIMA data, there are around 300 ink manufacturers in India across India, with a high concentration of them in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi (NCR), Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal and UP. (AIPIMA). The estimated employment offered by the ink industry is around one-lakh people directly, including channel partners to around 1.50-lakh people. The printing industry offers employment to close to 15- crore people who need ink to complete their jobs.

PW: Till about late 1990, there was only one multinational ink manufacturing company in India, but in the last 25 years, many European, Japanese and American printing ink and Coating manufacturers have entered the field in India. What changes have you seen?
VM: Competition brings out the best product and services. With the opening up of the economy in the nineties, many MNCs started their operations in India. In the process, they brought in the latest technology, making the local players develop improved products. In the process, the local manufacturers got access to improved technology and adequate quality raw materials from international sources. Over time, this has helped many local MSMEs to improve their quality standards and to diversify their product range.

PW: How have these new multinationals helped the printing ink industry in India?
VM: As mentioned earlier, the arrival of new Printing Ink manufacturing MNCs in India has helped by not only introducing Indian Ink manufacturers to the international market in terms of access to many international Raw material suppliers but also getting exposure to the latest technology. All major Printing press manufacturers are from Europe and Japan, and these ink companies get the opportunity to work with them for a suitable product for these machines from the start.

Overall, the arrival of more MNCs in India has helped to improve the standard of the Indian Ink Industry, especially the MSME sector.

PW: The global printing ink market is estimated to be around USD 15-billion (Ink World), while the Indian ink market is estimated to be around USD 1-billion (PrintWeek). What is the market share of the ink companies – multi-national vis-a-vis Indian companies?
VM: The large six multinational ink companies have around 65% of the market share, and the rest 35% is with small- to medium-size Indian ink manufacturing companies.

PW: How many Indian printing ink companies, what’s their size and business?
RS: There are around 300 micro-, small- and medium-size ink manufacturers in India. Many of these manufacturers export their products to overseas markets, but our merchant export is not more than 5% of our manufacturing capacity.

PW: What potential does Indian printing ink manufacturing hold?
RS: India could become the hub of printing ink manufacturing for export if there is a facility to test the quality of printing inks meeting and conforming to international standards. These inks will include all inks used for printing newspapers, magazines, flexible packaging, carton packaging, and metal packaging, and open up a huge new market for Indian entrepreneurs.

PW: Which are the printing segments to target?
RS: The ink market in India saw a decline in demand for newspaper and commercial sheetfed inks post-pandemic, but the same is limping back very slowly to its past numbers.

Packaging inks have shown a steady growth of about 18%-20% even during the pandemic, and it continues its growth trajectory.

The usage of overprint varnishes (OPVs) has also increased hugely to add more protection and aesthetics to the printed material. UV and water-based inks have also seen a big jump in demand leading to the overall growth of the ink Industry.

Overall, the ink industry is poised to grow exponentially in the next few years and utilise its full capacity.

PW: How is the Asia Coat & Ink Show from 17-19 November 2022 at NESCO, Mumbai?
VM: It’s shaping up well, with the highest number of exhibitors participating in the show compared to past Exhibitions. The manufacturers and suppliers of resins, additives, solvents, pigments, and monomers, and dealers of machinery and instruments, together with the printing ink manufacturers, have booked their space to participate in Asia’s biggest coatings and ink show.

PW: What’s special about the concurrent International Conference on 16 November 2022?
VM: The International Conference is themed: Next generation Printing Ink and Technology, issues-trend and way forward. It will be hosted at the Hotel Courtyard Marriot, a venue close to the international airport in Sahar, Mumbai. The AIPIMA has invited speakers from Japan, Germany, the UK, and the USA to make the presentation for the benefit of micro, small and medium printing ink enterprises.

PW: The visitor profile?
VM: We expect visitors from the printing ink manufacturers’ pan-India and raw material suppliers to the printing ink industry. We would also like the print fraternity, the users of printing ink, to visit the show and see what goes into the development of inks and the latest in ink manufacturing. Invitations to major Printing Associations and its members have been sent. We have also taken the initiative to invite students from the Printing Schools to come and visit the show and get basic knowledge on various consumables.

RS: Fortunately, this time, printing ink manufacturers across the globe are eyeing India for the supply of raw materials and inks, as due to the geopolitical and economic conditions are compelled to look at India as the solution provider.