Report on the status of packaging - December 2023

The quarterly monitoring report on the packaging supply chain: the updated situation at December 2023. General economic scenario and analysis of the manufacturing sector and consequent evolution of the packaging sector.

Barbara Iascone
Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

The performance of the manufacturing industry sectors in which the consumption of packaging is highest is summarized here, subdivided into macro food and non-food areas. The evolutionary outlooks of the manufacturing sectors are drawn from sectoral analyses carried out by category associations, ISTAT (Italian National Statistical Institute) and the Italian Institute of Packaging’s data bank, Prometeia.

Manufacturing industry data

As has been established for some time, the packaging sector is closely linked to manufacturing industry trends, particularly those in which packaging is more used: foods and beverages, consumer goods, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, etc.

Analysing the segmentation of the manufacturing sector, therefore, the following picture emerges: The food & beverage sector registers overall a fall of -1.1%, in which beverages fall by around -3.5% and food -1%. The “cosmetics” and “pharmaceutical” areas are, instead, growing, closing 2023 respectively at +10% and +2.5%. Consumer Goods should, moreover, close with a growth of 2.7%. This category includes all household shopping products, subdivided into four macro areas: 1) food and drinks; 2) non-food groceries (household chemicals, personal care, over-the-counter medicines); 3) clothing, footwear and leather goods; 4) semi durable consumer goods (household appliances, toys, consumer electronics, furniture, etc.).

The food area is not, however, the only one to register falls in 2023. Among the sectors most linked to the packaging industry, reference is made to the negative growth of construction products and materials (-4.6%), and of durable goods, in which electrical appliances register -4,4%, and furniture -2,4. There has also been a fall in chemical intermediates (-7.8%) and Fashion (-2.5%).

Balance of the empty packaging sector in Italy.
  2020 2021 var. 21/20 2022 var. 22/21 Ipotesi 2023 var. 23/22
Turnover 33,256 35,216 5.90% 40,652 15.40% 40,710 0.10%
Employees (estimate) - - - 109,491 - - -
Companies (estimate) - - - 7,257 - - -
Production 17,002 18,194 7.00% 18,089 -0.60% 17,923 -0.90%
Export 2,846 3,029 6.40% 2,961 -2.20% 2,769 -6.50%
Import 2,091 2,419 15.70% 2,694 11.40% 2,748 2.00%
Apparent use 16,247 17,583 8.20% 17,822 1.40% 17,901 0.40%
Source: Imballaggio in cifre edizione 2023

The packaging sector: a summary

The analyses reported in the latest edition of Imballaggio in Cifre (Packaging in Figures) refer to the final data for 2022, in which there emerges a slight fall for the production of packaging expressed in tonnes, -0.6%, against a significant increase in turnover, +15.4%.

The difference between the two trends is explained by the explosion of the cost of production linked to the increase in energy costs on the one hand, and the increase in the prices of raw materials on the other hand: all this has led to an inevitable increase in the costs of individual packaging. The final data for 2022 regarding the production of packaging stands at 18,089 t/000, with turnover arriving at exceeding 40.6 billion euros.

Projections. The first projections have been made with regards to 2023, considering, however, that, since the data is still being registered and defined, they cannot be considered as final, but only useful trend indicators. Packaging production expressed in tonnes could record a -0.9% compared to 2022, fully in line, therefore, with the manufacturing trend; turnover should, instead, remain practically stable (+0.1%). Foreign trade would confirm the trends already recorded in past years. Exports appear to show a negative trend with a -2.2% for 2022 and a further -6.5% for 2023. Imports should grow in 2022 and 2023, respectively by +11.4% and +2%.

Analysing the different types of packaging, the following emerges:

  • In 2022 the steel packaging sector records a fall of -6.2%, due both to a physiological rebound compared to the +5% of the previous year, and to a fall in production affecting the major user sectors. Steel packaging produced fell under 700,000 tonnes. On the basis of trends analysed by ISTAT and analyses regarding foreign trade, 2023 should continue with the negative trend already seen in 2022, recording a further production fall of around 3%.
  • The production of aluminium packaging only, therefore excluding foil used for converting, stood in 2022 at 154,000 tonnes, up by 1.3%. A reversal in the trend is expected in 2023, for which production should record a fall of around 2%.
  • There are positive trends for plastic packaging both for 2022 (+2.6%) and 2023 (+1%). The final figure for production in 2022 is 3,043 t/000. In recent years, the plastic packaging market has been characterised by a constant growth in imports, up between 2021 and 2023 by respectively 21.6%, 12% and 9.5%.
  • The positive trend registered in the last 10 years for flexible packaging for converting, interrupted only in 2020, continues: in 2022 421,000 tonnes were produced (+1.5%) and a positive trend, +1%, is registered again for 2023.
  • Worth noting is the fall with reference to cellulose packaging, registered in both 2022 and 2023. The final figure for 2022 is 5.779 t/000 of packaging in paper and cardboard produced in Italy (-3.4%) and the negative trend is confirmed for 2023, with a fall of -1.5%.
  • In the area of rigid laminated packaging with a prevalence of paper, the now usual stability is recorded: production of 147,000 tonnes and a turnover of around 482 million euros, both for 2022 and 2023.
  • Glass packaging continues its positive path: after a 2022 growing by 1.7%, 2023 confirms the trend with a further +1.5%, taking glass packaging to over 4,700 t/000.
  • After a substantially stable 2022, -0.4%, on the basis of the first figures, the production of wooden packaging is likely to show a fall of 5%.

With regards, finally, to the prices of raw materials used to produce packaging, these have been characterised by generalised falls with no distinctions between materials, with the exception of glass, which, instead, has been subject to price increases.

General economic scenario

On the basis of first analyses, 2023 registers a negative trend for almost all economic indicators. GDP should close with a fall of 0.7% compared to 2022, and industrial production in the 1st half-year shows a drop of -2.8%.

According to the analysis drawn up by Confindustria’s Research Centre, Italian industry remains weak in 2023, despite recovering trends for the “services” and “construction” sectors; inflation is expected to settle at minimum levels only in Itay: at +0.6% on an annual basis. The situation is different for the rest of Europe: +3.8% for Germany and +4.1% for France. Domestic consumption is uncertain; expenditure on food is falling. Exports of Italian products relating to the first 11 months of the year are down (-1.4%), a drop that needs to be contextualized within a weak picture of global demand for goods, down -2.2%. A recovery of exports seems possible, however in the 4th quarter.

Based on Prometeia’s analysis, Italian manufacturing closed slightly down (-0.6%) in 2023, affected by the fall in both domestic and foreign orders, leading to a relative drop in production. Another factor influencing the negative manufacturing trend is the difficulty relating to consumption, which is falling as a result of the deterioration of families’ purchasing power.

Note: The data used for drawing up the report are taken from the Italian Institute of Packaging’s Data Bank.

Find out more information about the companies mentioned in this article and published in the Buyers' Guide - PackBook by ItaliaImballaggio
Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

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