Based on the end-of-quarter survey conducted by the MECS-AMAPLAST Statistical Studies Centre among member companies, sales registered average growth of 12 percentage points, thanks mainly to good performance in the domestic market (+16%), led by sales in replacement parts. Sales abroad have also increased by nearly 10 percent.
The rebound in orders is even more significant, again driven by a rise in domestic demand. New machinery and systems recorded an impressive +64% (most likely attributable to investment incentive measures in the Transition Plan 4.0) while spare parts also performed very well at +29%. Orders from abroad racked up a modest but satisfactory +8%. The companies have a 6-month horizon on their orders.
Expectations for the second quarter are marked by optimism, especially as regards international markets, where demand is forecast to rise by 18% and sales may even hit +52%, a peak that might also be seen in the domestic market, although orders are expected to fall to a respectable +4%.
As regards applications, the AMAPLAST survey shows that the four main segments for plastics and rubber processing machinery manufacturers — packaging, automotive, construction, and medical — have a stable outlook with an upward trend, with packaging having a slight edge on the others. Even in the most critical months of the pandemic, this segment held its ground and continues to show a favourable trend. On the other hand, the entire automotive sector has suffered greatly but has finally shown some indications of recovery in the last period. Meanwhile, the construction industry will benefit from the strong tax incentives currently in place.
“The first quarter of the current year confirms the early forecasts by the association, which called for a marked reversal of trend from the difficult period for companies because of the pandemic in 2020,” commented AMAPLAST director Mario Maggiani. “The outlook is not entirely free of uncertainties and concerns, with various political and commercial tensions, and a strong upward trend in raw material, component, and transportation costs, compounded by spikes in virus infections that we have not yet succeeded in fully supressing with the vaccination campaign.
“It is unlikely that we will see a return to pre-crisis levels this year” ended Maggiani, “but the momentum we have built up in the first part of the year has allowed many companies to look to the future with greater optimism, hoping especially for a rapid and safe resumption of international transfers, given that over 70% of production in the sector continues to go into exports.”
Image source: Fotolia/Kirsty Pargeter