Production of Italian printing, converting machinery grew in 2008
Consumers remain cautious after plunging gas prices
Study: Dropping prices can hurt brands
Printed and thin film transistor circuits: The second coming of silicon chips?
SOURCES FOR CURRENT RESIN PRICES


Production of Italian printing, converting machinery grew in 2008

In the face of economic uncertainty, total output and exports in Italian printing and converting machinery flourished.

The Italian Manufacturers’ Association of Machinery for the Graphic, Converting and Paper Industry (ACIMGA) reported that production of Italian printing and converting presses grew 4% in 2008, expansion that was supported by an 8.4% increase of exports. These upticks trumped the 2.8% increase the industry association reported for 2007, and despite a small reduction in imports, Italian manufacturers still saw a positive trade-balance of nearly €720 million ($954 million), an increase of 33% over 2007 figures.

While the industry group reported a continuing industry growth trend, ACIMGA also saw stark changes in export patterns. In North America, the export trend there reversed, declining 2.9% in 2008 after that market grew 19.1% the year before. Central and South America registered the largest increase-53.7%, to be exact-of Italian imports, well above the Asian market, which grew 37.6% in 2008. European markets lagged, however, declining 2.9% in 2008, largely similar to the 2.7% contraction it experienced in 2007.

Among the top destination countries, the United States and Germany ranked first and second, respectively, even as the exports to those nations shrank slightly (3% and 3.5%). China, a key force behind the Asian market’s growth, shot up from sixth place to third place with an increase of 58.6%.

Consumers remain cautious after plunging gas prices

Even after relief from record gas prices, consumers are sticking with the frugal habits they developed during the crisis.

Despite the nearly 56% plunge in gas prices, results from a recent Nielsen survey show U.S. consumers aren’t letting go of the strategies they used to cope with high petrol prices. The data suggests that even as the economy gets better, consumers will keep looking for value in products and packages.

According to Nielsen’s December 2008 Gas Price Impact Survey, U.S. consumers continue to combine shopping trips and errands (77%, down one point from June 2008), eat out less (57%, up five points), stay home more often (50%, down one point) and reduce spending (64%, up one point). These trends, says the research agency, are expected to continue through 2009.

The frugal habits are especially evident in trips to the grocery store, where 39% of U.S. households say they’re using more coupons, 38% are buying less expensive grocery brands (including private label products), 29% are shopping more at supercenters and 17% are buying larger economy sizes.

According to the survey, households with mid-range incomes ($70,000–$99,900) have adjusted the most of any survey group. Respondents in this category are 12% more likely to buy less expensive grocery brands (including private label goods), 27% more likely to use coupons and 11% more likely to shop more at supercenters. In contrast, households with incomes over $100,000 are 16% less likely to buy less expensive grocery brands.

Study: Dropping prices can hurt brands

Consumers question a product’s value once the price is slashed.

Cutting the price of branded foods and other products, despite seeming like the natural response to bad economic times, can actually hurt consumer perception of the brand, according to a new study from Yankelovich. “Dollars and Consumer Sense” stated that when consumers were asked what they thought when an established brand dropped in price, 70% concluded that it must have been overpriced to start with, and 62% thought it must be priced to move because it’s outdated or about to expire. By contrast, when asked what they would conclude if it did not lower its price, 64% assumed that it must be popular and a good value.

Printed and thin film transistor circuits: The second coming of silicon chips?

One report predicts 799% growth in market for printed, thin film transistor circuits by 2019.

Printed and thin film transistor circuits, currently a $10 million market, will blossom into an $8 billion market over the next 10 years says a report from IDTechEx. Currently, the circuits have a large presence in the plastics and printing industries, and as the market grows, the technology will drive innovations in electronic products, medical disposables, smart packaging and smart labels.

Over the next 20 years, from 2009-2029, the research firm says the market for printed and thin film transistor circuits has the potential to repeat the fast growth and success of the silicon chip market: The 20 years from 1978-1998 saw a similar starting and finishing value of sales of silicon chips.

Like silicon chips, developments in printed and thin films transistor circuits will come from virtually every direction, including North America, Europe and Asia. Nearly one-third (32%) of companies currently developing printed transistors are U.S.-based, while 27% of those companies are based in Japan and 10% based in Germany. The report also notes that companies currently operating in Korea (9%), the United Kingdom (5%), Taiwan (4%), Canada (3%), France (2%) and Singapore (2%) will make significant contributions to the market’s growth over the next 20 years.

SOURCES FOR CURRENT RESIN PRICES
Chemical Market Associates Inc.
DeWitt & Co. Inc.
ICIS
IDES Inc.
Plastics News