When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Europe early this year, the economic impacts were almost immediately evident. Industries almost across the board, including the plastics and rubber machinery industry, were hit hard.
Yet the good news, at least according to the newest report from the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association within Germany’s VDMA, is that in terms of sales, 2020 has proven not to be a complete write-off after all.
By mid-2020, the downward curve in sales and incoming orders had already started to flatten; by September, that downward trend showed signs of reversing itself, with incoming orders once again on the rise.
Ultimately, according to these new figures, a 3% year-on-year decline in incoming orders can be seen for the period from January to October 2020, a result mainly due to the months of September and October, reported Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association within the VDMA.
”In September 2020, we had 13% more incoming orders compared to the same month of the previous year, and in October 2020, there were even twice as many orders on the books as a year ago,” said Reifenhäuser.
It means the German plastics and rubber machinery industry is about to turn the corner, added Thorsten Kühmann, managing director of the VDMA trade association. “Business is up and running again.”
This conclusion also mirrors the development in foreign trade. Through May 2020, German monthly plastics and rubber machinery exports dropped to significantly lower levels compared to the same months in the previous year. However, these started to pick up in June, and by September, had not only caught up, but exceeded the export levels reported in September of last year.
The good news notwithstanding, the figures also show that in terms of sales, the plastics and rubber machinery sector has been less quick to recover. These are projected to be 10-15% lower in 2020, compared to 2019. Revenue from January to October 2020 demonstrate a 14% decrease compared to the same period last year.
However, the association is looking forward to a growth in sales of 5% in 2021, and 10% or even higher in 2022 - hence, seeing the plastics and rubber machinery sector very likely returning to its pre-crisis level of 2019 by 2023, Kühmann ended.