The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has not spared the packaging machines sector. As emerges from the statistical survey carried out by the Ucima Study Centre (an acronym for Unione Costruttori Italiani Macchine Automatiche per il Confezionamento e l’imballaggio – Union of Italian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers) for 2020, the health emergency has caused a slight drop in turnover compared to 2019, when the Italian packaging industry was the “richest” in the world with a turnover of over €8 billion.
Certainly, compared to the suffering experienced by other sectors, the drop in turnover of companies in the packaging machinery sector was decidedly contained. As we will see in detail below, the stop recorded by this particular niche of mechanics is in fact minimal. This is thanks to the high level of automation that Italian companies are able to guarantee to customers all over the world,” emphasises the president of the Italian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers’ Association, Matteo Gentili.
Packaging machines and packaging: 5% drop in turnover in 2020
According to the pre-consensus data collected by the UCIMA Research Centre, the turnover of the entire packaging machinery sector in Italy fell by 5% in 2020 compared to 2019. Total turnover has thus dropped below 8 billion, to 7.638 billion euros. This is obviously a negative figure, if compared to the previous year, but all in all positive if compared to the drop in GDP (probably in double figures) recorded by the entire country system.
Analysing the data of the UCIMA Study Centre research, we discover that the Italian market is the one that has recorded the greatest drop in turnover. Compared to 2019, turnover from sales to other Italian companies fell by 6.8% (for a total value of just under €1.6 billion), while exports fell by 4.5 percentage points. Packaging companies were particularly supported by the Pharma, Food & Beverage and Home & Personal Care sectors.
Gentili: 2021 will be the year of recovery
As mentioned, several times, although it is a negative figure, the drop in turnover of the packaging sector is all in all acceptable. This is admitted by UCIMA president Matteo Gentili himself, commenting on the data of the statistical survey of the Study Centre. “We expected this slowdown but our sector remains strong and looks to the future with confidence. The Covid emergency did not catch us unprepared: on the contrary, we have demonstrated our strength even in difficult times. Thanks to our 4.0 technologies – said the UCIMA president -, which allow remote control of plants, remote testing and remote assistance, we have always remained close to our customers all over the world”.
The year 2021, therefore, represents a fundamental crossroads for the future of the packaging sector in Italy. For President Gentili, the current year must be one of consolidation and relaunch of the sector. “In 2021 we expect to return to growth, but caution is needed. We are aware that our competitors are fierce and that, due to the pandemic, uncertainty still reigns supreme in many markets.
In this scenario, the National Transition 4.0 Plan, which provides 24 billion euros that Italian companies will be able to use for the automation of production plants, is of fundamental importance. A measure that UCIMA judges “favourably, one that sees the enhancement of all deduction rates and an important anticipation of the timeframe for their use”.