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European tube manufacturing showing signs of recovery

By Simon Pitman , 17-Sep-2010

After a tough year in 2009, the European Tube Manufacturing Association (ETMA) says the industry has shown clear signs of recovery in the first half of 2010.

The association said a total of 5.5 billion tubes were produced by its member in Europe during the first half of 2010, an increase of 12 per cent on the comparable figure in the first half of 2009, when the industry was hit hard by recession.

According to ETMA, its member companies have reported the main driving force behind the growth has been the cosmetics and personal care industry, although production for both the pharmaceutical and dental care segments has also risen.

Aluminium tubes continue to really drive growth in the market and with demand growing by 14 per cent during the period, helping to push the total share of the tubes category to 42 per cent.

Plastic tube demand linked to skin care market growth

Demand for plastic tubes, which have proven increasingly popular in the fast-expanding skin care market in recent years, grew by 11 per cent, while demand for laminate tubes, which did not falter during the tough times in 2009, grew by 9 per cent.

In total the plastic and laminate tube categories had a combined market share of 29 per cent during the first half of the year.

“Clients are more confident again even though orders continue to be placed at relatively short notice and in small lot sizes,” said ETMA president Martin Hintz. “A high degree of flexibility and intelligent production planning are thus highly imperative for the sector,” he added.

Raw materials increase in price

The association also pointed out the significant rise in demand has led to an increase in prices for raw materials used in the manufacturing of tubes, particularly for aluminium slugs, plastic granules, lacquers and closures.

Due to the fragile nature of the recovery, manufacturers have been reluctant to pass these price increases on their consumers, making things difficult for the industry and putting more pressure on margins.

ETMA predicts the rate of growth shown in the first half of 2010 is unlikely to decline, and in a statement said: ‘the sector is optimistic that the record result achieved in 2008 may be exceeded’.

Championing innovation

In an attempt to steer the tubes manufacturing sector out of the recession, ETMA has been championing innovation, a factor that proved to be key for the association recently announced Tube of The Year awards.

Last month seven jury members chose to recognize ETMA members in a number of categories, with awards given for best offering in aluminium, plastic, laminate and prototype – the same categories as those for the 2009 awards.

Germany-based company Lindhardt won two categories – best in aluminium tube and best in the laminate tube category.

The company garnered the aluminium category award on the fact that it combined an aluminium tube with a tamper-evident protection for the cap, while the laminate award went to its Multiflex line, which incorporates a weld seam and an airless dispenser system.