Etma members, who account for more than three-quarters of all European tube production, manufactured 9.56bn tubes in 2009 compared to a record 10.2bn in 2008.
However, the European tube market was less affected than other branches of industry according to etma, with secretary general, Gregor Spengler, commenting that in view of the economic crisis, the results were still positive.
“In view of the fact that we have had the worst economic crisis since the Second World War, we can still be satisfied with the overall result in 2009” he said.
Although consumer spending declined during the recession, the fall in tube production cannot be attributed solely to reduced consumer consumption, said etma, as additional reduction in demand was caused by customers cutting back stocks in an attempt to reduce their capital commitment.
Cosmetics tube market suffers, toothpastes fares better
Cosmetics, the largest market for tubes in Europe with a share of approximately 40 per cent, was particularly susceptible to the tough economic climate, with a fall in production of 8.3 per cent largely due to a significant drop in demand for highly priced and exclusive cosmetics products.
In contrast, etma noted that sectors catering for essential items such as personal care products or food were stable. Toothpaste tube consumption remained almost unchanged, and a small gain of 0.5 per cent in the food sector was recorded.
Aluminum tube production hits 4bn mark
Looking at materials, production of laminate tubes increased 1 per cent in 2009, with production falling just short of the 3bn mark.
While production of aluminum tubes fell by 4.9 per cent last year, this sector represented the most important type of tube in terms of volume, exceeding the 4bn mark.
According to etma, this fall resulted from declining demand in the pharmaceutical sector and the subdued market for hair dyes. Similarly, weakness in the cosmetics market was labelled the main reason for losses in the plastic tube market, with production falling 11.8 per cent in 2009.
Market trends and future outlook
Cost was the overriding factor in tube trends, with customers demanding simpler designs as well as a shift in distribution from high end retailers to discounters, etma noted.
Another trend set to continue is the placing of smaller orders at short notice with short delivery times, which presents the tube industry with additional challenges, the association said.
Although things appear to be improving in 2010, with a slight increase in demand from core markets and growing confidence amongst European consumers, Spengler’s outlook remains cautious.
“I still cannot see any clear signs of a sustainable economic turnaround,” he said.