The recent increases in raw material prices and shortages in plastic materials have put the European flexible tubes industry under pressure.
Prices for aluminium and plastics have gone through the roof over the last 12 months (April 2020 – April 2021) by around 60 percent for aluminium and between roughly 75 to 90 percent for plastics such as HDPE, LDPE and PP. Moreover, general capacity cuts in the plastics industry, the rising demand for plastics in the quickly recovering Chinese and US economies and several force majeure cases declared by several plastic producers in Europe have already led to shortages of plastics used in tube production. On top of that, also food grade post-consumer recycled plastic materials are in short supply so that it is rather difficult to satisfy growing customers’ demands.
The industry’s cost pressure was further fired by sky-rocketing prices for carton, coatings and transport services. “The tremendous pressure is simultaneously coming from all sides and is considerably threatening the balance sheets of the European flexible tube industry. These developments are a great challenge for our members”, underlines etma President Dr. Fabio Gussoni. “The packaging industry has proved to be a system-relevant sector during the pandemic in order to secure the continuous supply of essential goods such as sanitizers, food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Now it is essential that the smooth supply of goods in Europe during an ongoing pandemic situation will not be jeopardized.”
Apart from these unprecedented challenges, the general outlook of European tube producers is optimistic, as long as vaccine-resistant mutants do not spoil the progress. Increasing vaccination speed in Europe, better test regimes, reduced mobility restrictions and rising temperatures towards summer will most likely allow more freedom of consumers and positively influence their buying habits. This is likely to also spur demand in those key markets of the tube industry which have largely suffered in the pandemic, such as the premium cosmetics market. Since order income from the resilient toothpaste, pharmaceutical and food sectors has been quite promising in 2021, the industry is still enjoying a volume-wise satisfactory demand