The report, completed ahead of the FachPack+PrintPack+LogIntern exhibition in Nuremberg from 26 to 28 September, underlines the importance of German suppliers for the cosmetics industry, especially for those looking to introduce more automation into their plants.
About two per cent of Germany's manufacturing production value is attributed to the country's consumer packaging sector according to the report.
The worldwide production volume of packaging supplies and machinery is estimated at some €400bn. Almost one-third of the packaging machines sold worldwide comes from Germany, the survey found.
With a production volume of around €4.2bn, the packaging machine segment is number one in the world, ahead of the US, Japan and Italy.
"One competitive advantage of the German machinery manufacturers is the high degree of automation, which is particularly demanded by brand article manufacturers in the Western countries," the survey found.
The trend is especially important for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic manufacturers, who need flexible filling and packing plants for smaller batches, report author Ellen Rascher stated. Guidelines on automating machines for the packaging industry are set out by Open Modular Architecture Controls, (OMAC), an international standards association .
The OMAC Packaging Guidelines contribute to more efficiency in the packaging industry, she said.
"The trend is to design individual machines of a plant as modules, so that they can be combined differently if required," she wrote.
The Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbauer (VDMA), the German engineering federation, currently reports full order books for packaging machinery, she noted.
"The investment backlog in Germany appears to be clearing slowly," analyses Richard Clemens, VDMA's general manager.
After slight growth to €4.2bn in 2005, he thinks the €4.5bn mark could be reached this year.
The some 300 German manufacturers of packaging machinery will then have stepped up their production output by almost a third since 2000, he noted.
Product piracy is a growing source of concern for German machinery manufacturers. According to a VDMA study, two thirds of the companies interviewed suffer from this problem.
Spare parts are counterfeited and whole machines, which are often only the same as the original in design terms. About 30 per cent of the companies interviewed estimate the annual loss of turnover due to product pirates at five per cent or more.
Rascher noted that in the past decade plastics have developed into the most important packaging material. Plastic materials account for about 43 per cent of Germany's packaging supplies market.
Last year, the 700 manufacturers in the industry increased their turnover by 5.8 per cent to €10.5bn, according to recent studies.
A new record quantity of some 3.8 million tons was also achieved. However, the plastics sector is being hit by rising prices for raw materials. Costs for supplies rose by up to 60 per cent in 2004, the report stated.
The cost of packaging plastics increased by between five to to 10 per cent in 2005.
The VDMA expects the extension of Germany's compulsory deposit scheme to create another boost for PET bottles. PET plastic bottles are more suitable for recycling than many other container materials.
Meanwhile Germany's container glass industry is under pressure from the compulsory deposit scheme and high energy prices.
The 32 companies in the German container glass industry sell 67.5 per cent of their production to the drink sector. Another 27.2 per cent is sold for use by preserved food manufacturers. The rest is bought by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.
Container glass production dropped by 2.5 per cent to 4.1 million tonnes in 2004 and sales revenue by 3.5 per cent to €1.5bn in 2005.
Dramatically increased energy prices put the segment under extra cost pressure in 2005.
"The energy-intensive container glass industry has had more than it can take," says Johann Overath, general manager of the Bundesverband Glasindustrie, an industry assocation. "Production capacities were therefore distinctly cut back last year by shutting down four large glass melting furnaces."
Paper and cardboard are among the most popular and most used packaging materials. The German corrugated cardboard industry is made up of 30 companies, owning about 100 factories.
The industry's sales rose by 3.2 per cent to a production of 7.6 billion square metres in 2005.
Turnover stagnated, with growth of 0.3 per cent to €3.309bn.
"Structural changes in the trade contributed partly to the growth in quantity," Rascher wrote. "Discounters use transport packages strategically in their outlets and therefore demand high-quality printed corrugated cardboard. Internet and mail order trade needs more transport packages. Around one fifth of all private customer packages handed in to Deutsche Post World Net are attributed to Internet transactions."
The carton manufacturers also expect strains on profitability this year. The 170 manufacturers of folding cartons produce some €2bn worth of cartons a year, of which almost 60 per cent go to the food industry.
The manufacturers use processing technologies such as metallization, embossing and relief printing creatively to achieve value creation potential, she reported.