Rising machinery shipments show promise

Packaging machinery shipments in the United States reached $4.889 billion last year, an $82 million (or 1.7%) increase from 2002, according to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s 10th Annual Shipments and Outlook Study.

Several equipment categories grew by more than 5% in 2003, including inspecting, detecting, and checkweighing (+8.4%); coding, dating, printing, marking, stamping, and imprinting (+8.1%); labeling (+5.6%); and form/fill/seal bag/pouch (+5.3%). Of the 16 defined types of packaging machinery detailed in the report, 12 experienced sales gains.

The study revealed that exports of U.S. packaging machinery jumped 33.1% in 2003, hitting $952 million, the highest sales total in five years. Domestic sales declined 3.8% for the year, but a record backlog of $1.3 billion in orders reflected positive influences in the economy, according to PMMI. The backlog figure jumped 23.6% from 2002.

The study forecasts cumulative annual growth of 3.9% from 2004 to 2006, when machinery shipments are predicted to reach $5.491 billion. Behind the growth are the following factors:

• An increase in Gross Domestic Product of 4% to 4.3% this year, 3% to 3.5% next year, and 4.2% to 4.6% in 2006.

• Capacity utilization rising to 76% this year, with the food segment, cited as a key indicator for the machinery market, up to 81.7%.

• A favorable U.S. dollar exchange rate and improved global economic conditions, providing U.S. manufacturers with a favorable export environment.

A copy of the study’s Executive Summary is available at www.pmmi.org. The complete study is available for $2귔 by contacting Paula Feldman, PMMI’s director of statistics, at 703/243-8555, or paula@pmmi.org.

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