According to VDMA, the past year was very successful for the manufacturers of food processing and packaging machinery: production rose by eight percent to just under 15.2 billion euros. "Many manufacturers started 2018 with a very high order backlog, which was gradually converted into sales in the first half of the year. This, too, explains the very high growth rate of eight percent for the year as a whole," says Richard Clemens, Managing Director of the VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association.
The Packaging Machinery Industry grew by a total of eight percent to 7.1 billion euros. The "Other Packaging Machinery" segment increased by almost twelve percent to 4.9 billion euros, while the Beverage Packaging Machinery segment increased by one percent and reached 2.2 billion euros, only slightly above the previous year's level.
Where Food Processing Machinery is concerned, the degrees of the growth rates in the individual sub-areas do vary somewhat – but all are positive: The production of meat processing machinery grew by 7.6 percent to 1.2 billion euros. The production of bakery machinery increased by nine percent to 667 million Euro. The confectionery machinery manufacturers recorded growth of 16 percent reaching 360 million euros and the production of beverage production machines grew by seven percent to 552 million euros.
In 2018, exports of Food Processing and Packaging Machinery rose by 6.1 percent to over 9 billion euros. Deliveries to the industry's most important sales region, the EU-28, rose by 9 percent. Demand from the USA – the most important foreign market – remained high. Exports to China and Russia showed double-digit growth rates. Clear impulses came from many other markets, including Brazil, Japan, the Republic of Korea and India.
Domestic business, too, continued to be an important pillar of the positive business development in 2018. In some food sectors, substantial investments were made in order to expand capacity and to expedite modernisation projects. Also, the shortage of personnel in the processing plants led to further investments in machinery and equipment.
Generally, the prospects for the Food Processing Machinery and Packaging Machinery sector seem good, as the industry continues to benefit from the rising global demand for processed and packaged food and beverages as well as pharmaceutical products. However, against the background of the exceptionally strong growth last year, only moderate growth of at most two percent is likely to happen in 2019.
"Although sales in the first four months of 2019 were higher than in the same period of the previous year, the sales growth is expected to be only moderate at two percent. However, incoming orders in the first four months clearly fell short of the previous year's level. Uncertainties due to ongoing trade disputes, but also many regional political crises, are causing investors to hold back with new orders," Clemens comments on the business outlook for 2019.