Hints of a Silver Lining
Package printers' 2001 prospects look brighter than the cloudy overall economic picture.
by Regis J. Delmontagne, President, NPES
As 2001 began, our industry was concerned, for the first time in several years, with the prospect of an economic slowdown. The printing industry in general, and package printing in particular, have been doing very well recently, but some authorities fear even a modest economic setback could have disproportionate impacts.
At last December's PRINT OUTLOOK® 2001 conference in Washington, for example, National Association of Printers and Lithographers Economist Andrew Paparozzi noted if the national economy grows in 2001 and 2002 at only about a 3.5 percent rate, the result could be $1.5 billion less in print sales in 2002 than if it had maintained 2000's 5.2 percent growth rate. "Even a soft landing matters to an industry as intensely competitive as print," he said.
NPES consulting economist Michael Evans, however, told the conference the basic conditions for strong growth still exist in 2001 and beyond. "Productivity growth will remain rapid not only next year but into the future," he predicted. By the end of 2001, he said, "we'll see Gross Domestic Product rebounding to above-average rates again."
The prospects for a tax cut, which seemed to improve dramatically early in 2001, also hold out the promise of increasing consumer spending and business investment, which should be good for print.
The packaging picture
When we look specifically at package printing, we see an industry segment that should outperform the rest of the industry significantly in the near future.
The Printing Industries of America's Print Market Analysis, for example, reports package printing realized about 6.1 percent growth in 2000, following a 4.3 percent gain in 1999. Both of these numbers outstripped those achieved by the print industry as a whole, though the industry at large did grow fairly strongly in both years.