German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers can look back over the past year with great satisfaction. 2016 as a whole saw substantial growth in sales, continuing the positive trend of the past few years. “At 4 per cent, growth is actually higher than the 2 per cent originally anticipated,” says Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association. This positive result rounds off a year marked in particular by the excellent sentiment at the K trade fair in October, giving German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers grounds for continued optimism for the future.
German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers’ exports to the US, already at a very high level, strengthened further. In the period from January to December 2016, sales of plastics and rubber machinery to America amounted to 774 million euro, an increase of 7.6 per cent. The US therefore not only maintained its leading position among export markets, but also increased its lead over second-placed China.
At 629 million euro, German exports to China continued the trend of recent years, being down 3.6 per cent in 2016. However, the sharp increase in VDMA members’ output produced in the country itself shows that China is still an important sales market. The marked rise in VDMA members’ exports from China also contributes to the drop in direct exports from Germany to that country.
Mexico ranked third among the most important countries buying German plastics and rubber machinery. In 2016, exports to Mexico were up by an impressive 51.9 per cent to 255 million euro.
Russia bottoms out
The year 2016 saw German deliveries of plastics and rubber machinery to Russia shrink for the third year in succession. In the period from January to December 2016 they amounted to 86 million euro, down 36.3 per cent on the previous year. However, the appreciable recovery in the Russian packaging sector as a direct consequence of Russian food sanctions suggests that exports of plastics and rubber machinery will pick up in 2017, since foodstuffs produced in Russia will need film or plastics packaging to preserve them. German exports to the Russian food products and packaging machinery sector were already up as 2016 drew to a close, indicating that sales to Russia have bottomed out.
Outlook for 2017 remains optimistic
The positive trend in German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturing will continue in the current year too. Thorsten Kühmann, Managing Director of the VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, expects German manufacturers’ sales to rise by 2 per cent, with global growth set to reach 3 per cent. “With their products and new developments, German plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers positioned themselves very favourably in 2016, the year of the K trade fair, providing the basis for the current year to end on a positive note as well,” concludes Thorsten Kühmann.