Digital Magazine

New drupa Global Trends Report on the Way

CHICAGO, IL | Messe Düsseldorf reports that following the successful drupa trade fair in 2016, the 4th annual Global Trends report will support the thesis that print is recovering well globally from the challenges of the 2007/2008 economic crisis and the strategic shift toward digital communications.

Sabine Geldermann, drupa director, says, “Last year’s drupa showcased a global print industry that has regained its confidence in the future, with lots of fresh technology and applications demonstrated to enthuse both printers and their customers alike. This report shows that while levels of confidence vary between regions and markets, overall the print industry is on the up and will invest strongly to secure a prosperous future.”

About 850 printers and over 300 suppliers representing all regions and markets who visited drupa last year participated in the survey of printfuture (a specialist print consultancy and market research company). Says Geldermann, “All printers, whatever market or region they are from, know that if they want to succeed in the long term, they must continue to adapt to the ever-changing market and economic conditions. This needs a ruthless approach to efficiency and automation while at the same time learning new skills and adding new value services. Nevertheless it is gratifying to report that overall, print got its ‘mojo’ back.”

Globally, 42% of printers described their business as “good” in 2016, while only 11% reported it as “‘poor”—a net balance of +31%, the highest recorded global result of the report series. With +46%, prospects for 2017 are even better, says the report.

However, according to the survey, market and regional variances are increasing. Package printing with +39% net value and functional printing (industrial/decorative) at +34% are strongest, followed by commercial at +26% and publishing at 23%. North America once again is the strongest region with a net value of +49%, followed by Europe and Australia/Oceania with +33%, Central/South America at +29%, Asia at +20%, the Middle East at 19%, and Africa at –3%, the first negative net balance of the report series. The Middle East reported very poor figures for many values, while Africa and Central/South America reported fragile conditions.

Regarding the underlying financial performance figures, printers reported a well-established pattern of falling prices and decreasing margins, compensated for by increasing revenues and higher capacity utilization. For conventional print, the familiar trends of decreasing run lengths and lead times with increasing orders continued.

Compared to other years, the historic growth of digital print paused: In 2015, 28% of printers reported that more than 25% of their turnover was digital while in 2016 it was only 27% of printers. Nevertheless, digital print has an ever-increasing hold on functional print, with inkjet as the dominant technology for most applications—from 61% in 2014 to 74% in 2016. Digital printing also continues to grow rapidly in commercial print and wide-format print: from 37% in 2013 to 50% in 2016. The highly anticipated growth of digitally printed packaging is starting, with 34% of packaging printers offering digital print, up from 24% in 2014.

Noticeable was the decrease in the number of web to print installations globally: down from 26% in 2015 to 23% in 2016. This decline was not universal. In Asia it actually increased, but in some regions such as North America and Australia/Oceania, the decline was significant.

Regarding capital investment plans, 42% of the survey participants spent more during the last 12 months and just 11% spent less, a net balance of +31%, with a net balance of +41% concerning plans for 2017. These positive results were from most regions, with the Middle East as the exception reporting just +5% in 2016. For the first time, print finishing ranks as No. 1 globally, followed closely by new print technology and PrePress/Workflow/MIS—a sign that automation is taken seriously.

Concerning print technology investment plans, sheet-fed litho is in the lead worldwide, followed by digital toner cutsheet color. Another first for the report series is that each of the four markets had a different No. 1 printing technology investment priority—commercial/digital: toner cutsheet color; publishing: sheet-fed offset; packaging, flexo, and functional printing: digital inkjet roll-fed color.

The full report will be released soon in English in at this link for €249; the Executive Summary will be available in seven languages (German, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese) free of charge. The three annual drupa Global Trends reports are complemented by the two drupa Global Insights reports, focusing on technical trends and changes. The first Global Insights report, “The Impact of the Internet on Print—The digital flood,” assessed the importance and effect of new online media. The second report “Touch the future—Applications that can create growth,” was published in November 2015. These reports can be also be downloaded from the drupa website (“visitor,” “specials”).

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