Ashwani Bhardwaj says 8-10% volume growth for Huber

Ashwani Bhardwaj, managing director at Hubergroup India is bullish about the Indian print outlook. He says: “The market is growing and so is the competition. Competitive landscape for the printing ink industry in India has changed. With the advent of more players and new capacities, we have to be better prepared for competition. Our focus today is on technology and product offering. We also continue to invest in our manufacturing infrastructure.” This is clear from the plant Capex at

10 May 2016 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Estimates of the size of the region’s printing ink industry vary. Last year when PrintWeek India met Ashwani Bhardwaj on the sidelines of the AIPIMA ink conference, he placed the Asia-Pacific market at approximately USD 5 billion, with Japan boasting of the largest portion at USD 2 billion and India at USD 750 million.

This is where the Vapi plant plays a big role. It catapults the company into being the largest ink manufacturer in India. Even as Hubergroup at a valuation of more than USD 1bn is the sixth-largest ink supplier in the world.

The Rosin Melter at Vapi

One year of Gecko
Hubergroup launched Gecko range of Flexo/Gravure inks last year, keeping in mind the emerging needs for safe packaging for food industry. The market has responded very positively to this initiative and the printers and print buyers appreciate this proactive step in promoting safety and environmental measures. Encouraged by the response to its Gecko launch, the company has lined up several new offerings for the folding carton segment. This includes conventional offset as well as UV Curing products. The new products will be launched in the second half of this year. 

Introduction of the Gecko product family, representing solvent-based packaging printing, in India early 2015, Bhardwaj says, was “One more step to make our global product basket available to printers and brand owners in India”.

Highlighting the salient features of Gecko, Bhardwaj says, these are new generation food packaging inks for flexo and gravure which “have been manufactured following the regulatory compliance prevalent in Europe, including the Swiss Ordinance, EuPIA guidelines and Nestle guidelines, among others.”

(Glimpses of Micro Inks-Huber Group: The largest ink manufacturer in India)

The ISC filteration and the spic and span packing area

The New V success story
Bhardwaj states, “Government regulations are getting more stringent and ink companies are gradually upgrading their own manufacturing processes and standards. Awareness among the printers and end users is growing and they are now demanding the ink manufacturers to follow the latest global product safety norms.”

To meet these needs, Hubergroup developed new UV products within its NewV product family. The NewV range of products meets the highest standards in terms of product safety. NewV products are highly appreciated by the customers. New V covers a wide range of applications. 

When PrintWeek India spoke to a newspaper production head during a UV conference, he told us, “The best thing is the quality, the worst is the price of UV inks. That said it is an insignificant price compared to the whole process of printing.” In addition, the production head felt, the project cost had paid off. “The intention was to achieve a good quality gloss cover without big capital investment, and we have. It means we are able to offer a more competitive product versus heatset but still giving the newsagent shelf impact that heatset provides.” In this sense, the Hubergroup inks, both UV and coldset, are an integral part of our business and give us the quality our customers expect.

Inky challenge, ahead
Bhardwaj is realistic that the publication and commercial printing market has faced plenty of challenges in recent years, and while magazines, catalogs and newspapers in India grow at a modest 4-5%. Although it will continue to be a market, large-scale growth is unlikely to return. He says due to the demographics of India, there may be a single digit growth due to regional print sites being added. “Which is why ink manufacturers have to be better prepared for these changes.”

Since September, 2015, the team at Hubergroup India joined 39 other international branches of Hubergroup, to celebrate the 250-year anniversary.

While the group does not have a stall at Drupa 2016, the employees of Hubergroup in India will be present at the show. More importantly by September of 2016, the group will unleash a new range of inks specially designed for the Indian market.

Interestingly enough, ten years ago, the Vapi plant was a base for reverse integration – that is, producing our own raw materials – and a way to open up an emerging and growing market, it soon became clear that an enormous amount of potential and innovative energy was to be found in this company and its employees. Once all of the synergies had been realised and implemented, not only did Hubergroup have new products based on concentrates of identical quality the whole world over, but the company also owned a fully integrated ‘mother plant’ now with key functions such as R&D and purchasing.

Bhardwaj, is very passionate about the safety aspect of printing inks or packaging inks. He insists, “Awareness about the product safety and its environmental impact is growing very rapidly. Apart from the developments in the digital area, it is the environmental concerns that will guide future product developments.” He says, consumers are talking about inks which meet stringent norms of safe food packaging.