Is the print and packaging economy immune to the larger economy?

Strong packaging capacity creation in FY 15-16; FY 16-17 is a drupa year


While one keeps hearing about the lack of investment in infrastructure and new manufacturing projects in the country, Indian print and packaging companies continue to build new plants and to invest in new technology machinery. By all serious reckoning the current financial year from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 will see a record number of highly configured multicolor offset presses as well as a high number of wide web flexo and gravure presses installed. A number of manufacturers of packaging films have also announced plansfor installing new lines which would most likely be commissioned in 2016-17. Moreover, not only in India but in Bangladesh and Pakistan also, this is likely to be a strong year for capacity creation in packaging.

However, in some segments, the order pipeline for 2016- 17 is not asstrong asit wasfor the current year. Most of the installs in the current year are based on plans and negotiations that began two years ago and while Indian business has postponed its hopes for the overall economy to look up in the second half of 2016, this cannot be a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless I would hazard a guess that our industry has its own investment momentum – that there is a continuous urge to invest even in the flattest of economic scenarios and 2016- 17 is a drupa year, as well.

The optimists who thought that the Modi government would unshackle the economy from the indecisiveness of the previous Congress-led government are quite right to feel disappointed. As Harvard professor Gita Gopinath wrote in Mint on 1 January 2016, “Given India’s large deficit in physical capital, they expected investment to rise as shovel-ready projects were restarted – and surely the new government’s emphasis on ‘Make in India’ would mean new manufacturing projects.

“Sadly investment has not grown. More disturbing, several obstacles blocking its revival remain in place. Private-sector fixed capital investment, as a share of gross domestic product, peaked at 33.6% in 2011-12 and has since trended down to the current low of 28.7% in 2014-15 . . . As for ‘Make in India,’ the reality is capacity creation in manufacturing has suffered a cumulative decline of 35% from its peak in 2011. The cumulative decline in services, at 13% looks moderate in comparison.”

Gopinath goes on to cite three factors holding back investment: major reforms in land acquisition; the continuing financial problems of Indian banks and many large corporations; and thirdly, the real cost of borrowing. She writes, “In terms of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the real cost of borrowing cash credit from public sector banks rose from 0.75% in the first quarter of 2012 to 5.24% in the third quarter of 2015.”

Neither Gopinath nor Ruchir Sharma (head of Emerging Markets Equity and Global Macro at Morgan Stanley Investment) are optimistic about 2016. Sharma wrote in the Times of India on 27 December 2015, “The world economy is currently growing at its weakest pace since it began recovery in 2009, with global GDP growth for 2015 estimated at 2.5% in real terms. But measured in nominal dollar terms, global GDP will likely contract by about 5% this year. This would be just the third time that the global economy has shrunk in nomial GDP terms since 1980.”

Sharma goes on to write that no sustained economic expansion at a rate like 8% is possible without a major contribution of export growth. “With India’s exports estimated to have fallen by 5% in 2015, little wonder its economy is most likely expanding at a 5 to 6% pace (as opposed to the 7 to 8% growth claimed by the dubious official data).”

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy.


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