Cancellations & delays in shipment affect investments

Packaging may witness steep growth after lockdown

Shashank Surana, executive director of Indo­Polygraph at the K&B stand at K 2019. Photo IPP

The Covid-19 outbreak has further collapsed the already tumbling Indian economy. The country is shut since 25 March 2020 to contain the spread of the deadly virus. Most businesses across the country face an uncertain future. A few credit rating agencies have issued updates slashing the earlier GDP forecasts for FY 2021. Nevertheless, the International Monetary Fund’s projection of a 1.9% hike in India’s GDP growth for FY 2021-22 is the highest among the G-20 nations. Under the complete lockdown, less than a quarter of India’s US$ 2.8 trillion economies is functional. The printing and a large part of the packaging sector remain out of order during the lockdown.

“Nearly all industries have taken a major hit amid the coronavirus crisis, and ours is no exception. Although Packaging may witness steep growth after lockdown Cancellations & delays in shipment affect investments some of our customers have permission to operate only for the packaging of essentials, they are working with a limited workforce and not to full capacity. Every component of the supply chain has been affected, and the situation doesn’t seem likely to improve until things are back to normal. However, we are optimistic that once the situation is stable, the industry will revive. We’re sure that our customers will come up with aggressive strategies to make up for these unexpected losses,” says Shashank Surana, executive director of Indo-Polygraph Machinery, the supplier of Koenig & Bauer equipment in India.

Impact of drupa postponement on K&B

In an interview, Sabine Geldermann, the director of drupa, said that the industry responded to the postponement of drupa positively and accepted the decision taken by the organizers. She added that Messe Dusseldorf would take all possible measures to meet the expectations of its global customers in April 2021. In 2019, most printers across the country delayed their investment plans since drupa was scheduled in the next year. Usually, the year before drupa slows down investments from printers as they wait to invest in the new technologies that suppliers offer at drupa. “Drupa is and will remain the most important exhibition for us. Koenig & Bauer is always at the forefront of innovations at drupa. The postponing of the trade fair will surely have an impact on the global printing industry, as we usually see a trend that customers are always looking forward to making investments during drupa.

“Since 2020 was supposed to be a drupa year, printing investments in 2019 were relatively lower than normal. On top of that, with the ongoing coronavirus situation, project implementation is further delayed due to some cancellations and delays in shipments,” adds Surana.

Packaging to bounce back soon

Many observers believe that the packaging demand in the country will shoot up soon after the lockdown is lifted. As and when FMCG, cosmetics, and other industries ramp up production, there will be a rise in the demand for packaging of these consumer products. “I strongly believe that the demand for packaging will shoot up in the latter part of the year. The entire supply chain has been affected, and once things are back to normal, printers will make up for this dark period as the economy comes back on track. Post-lockdown, within almost two months, packaging printers will be under tremendous pressure to increase production,” explains Surana.

K&B’s ensures full support to its customers amidst lockdown

Press suppliers across the country are taking adequate steps to ensure that their customers do not face trouble during the lockdown. “As soon as we heard about the nation-wide lockdown, we got in touch with all our customers to provide them all the assistance they require. We have also provided them a preventive maintenance plan about what needs to be done before and after the lockdown to ensure optimal machine performance once the lockdown is lifted. Our factory in Radebuel, Germany, is fully operational – be it the service department or the assembly line,” says Surana.

As far as Koenig & Bauer, all the upgrades of its existing machines in the market will be incorporated as planned. This activity is irrespective of the delayed drupa. However, the new launches scheduled for drupa 2020 stand postponed till April 2021. Indo-Polygraph has ensured its engineers are stationed close to customers and have special permission to assist them amidst the lockdown. On the other hand, the remote assistance offered to K&B customers remains unaffected despite the coronavirus situation.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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