Alufoil sees Production Growth on all Fronts
First quarter 2013 figures for aluminium foil showed growth across all gauges for the first time since mid-2011. Overall Q1 production grew by 3.7% to 209,400t (2012: 201,900). Meanwhile exports* from European manufacturers maintained the momentum seen in the later part of 2012 with a first quarter growth of 10.3%, according to figures released by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) recently.
Thinner gauges, used largely for flexible packaging and household foils continued their steady recovery during 2012 with a 2.4% increase in the first three months of 2013. Thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, advanced by 2.5%, showing growth in this sector for the first time in 18 months.
However the Association believes the outlook remains cautious. EAFA’s Executive Director Stefan Glimm commented, “These are pleasing results, particularly the recovery of volumes for thicker gauges. But demand remains weak in the automotive and building sectors and, until we see an upturn in these industries, predicting future order patterns remains difficult.”
More optimism is evident in the food and beverage markets which are proving very resilient during continued economic uncertainty and slower than expected recoveries in most European economies. Another bright spot is the strong export order books for aluminium foil which indicate the strength of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region, India and the Americas.
Modest Recovery for Aluminium Foil Deliveries in 2012
The moderate increase in demand and deliveries for aluminium foil products from European manufacturers, seen during the first three quarters of 2012, was maintained in Q4. The year ended with total production up 1.5% at 813,800t (2011: 801,600t) according to the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA). The deliveries in the fourth quarter 2012 were 5% up compared with Q4 2011.
Commenting on the figures, Manfred Mertens, EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group Chairman, said, “Last year’s recovery is encouraging, but the outlook remains cautious into 2013 so we cannot predict the situation going forward with any certainty. Growth in export sales is expected to continue, but European markets remain volatile. Requests for short term deliveries continue to affect production planning and European aluminium foil manufacturers must continue to be flexible and react to market changes quickly.”
Thinner gauges used for flexible packaging and household foil continued to lead the way with an increase of 3% compared with the previous year. The increase in Q4 compared with same period in 2011 was even 8%.
Deliveries of thicker gauges which are typically used for semi-rigid containers and technical applications continued to decline, falling in total by 5% in the last twelve months, although the rate of decline is continuing to slow down with only a 1% decrease in the fourth quarter.
Exports continued to show increases throughout the year. Deliveries outside the EAFA region* were up almost 8%, confirming that emerging markets continue to outperform their European counterparts, although the fourth quarter exports outside the region were only up by 5%.
Positive Development for Alufoil in the First Nine Months
The first nine months of 2012 showed a positive development for the European manufacturers of aluminium foil. According to European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) 618,500 tonnes were delivered in the three quarters (2011: 611,400 tonnes), representing an increase of 1.2%.
Thinner gauges mainly for flexible packaging and household foil were up more than one cent while thicker gauges typically used for semi-rigid containers and technical applications decreased five per cent. Exports outside the EAFA region further improved by twelve per cent, indicating a recovery in demand from emerging markets and others outside Europe.
Manfred Mertens, EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group Chairman, comments the situation: “The slight increase in deliveries should last at least until the end of the year although the uncertainties of the economic situation in the near future grow. The trend for short deliveries continues making predictions and planning more difficult. The European aluminium foil producers can partly serve those needs with their flexibility and close to market operations.“
European Alufoil Manufacturers optimistic for the full year 2012
After a slow start into the year 2012 the European manufacturers of aluminium foil saw clear signs of recovery in the second quarter. According to European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) 411,500 tonnes were delivered in the first six months (2011: 420 100 tonnes), representing a decrease of two per cent.
Thinner gauges mainly for flexible packaging and household foil were down two per cent while thicker gauges typically used for semi-rigid containers and technical applications dipped almost eight per cent. A major boost came from exports which leapt by almost ten per cent, indicating a recovery in demand from emerging markets and others outside Europe.
However, these figures mask a better performance in the second quarter of 2012, where deliveries were above the year before, indicating more steady demand from inside Europe.
While total production figures for the first half of 2012 showed a decline on the previous year there are signs of recovery in deliveries. Stefan Grimm, Executive Director of EAFA commented, “The outlook for alufoil production in 2012 is optimistic for the third and fourth quarter. We are confident that total production for the whole year will match results from last year. The second quarter results were very encouraging after a period of negative figures.”
“There is an increasing demand for short term deliveries, rather than longer term ordering which can affect these results,” he added.
European Alufoil Production starts calm into 2012
The start into 2012 was calm for the European aluminium foil manufactures in line with the European economic markets. The first three months showed an overall shipments decrease of almost five per cent to 204,000t compared to last year’s first quarter according to figures published by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA).
Thinner gauges mostly used for flexible packaging and household foil declined by almost six per cent. The shipments of thicker foil segments typically used for semi-rigid container and technical applications fell by almost ten per cent. However, exports* from Europe rose by almost nine per cent underlining the competiveness of the European foil rollers on a global level.
Commenting the start of the year and the outlook EAFA’s Executive Director Stefan Glimm said: “The slow start reflects the overall European economic situation with quite stable regions and less performing areas. The prevention of food waste through its excellent barrier and preservation properties should provide aluminium foil a healthy future.
"Expectations are positive for the rest of 2011 with a number of events providing the aluminium foil sector with the opportunity to show off its packaging and industrial prowess. At interpack 2011, EAFA will be showcasing many of alufoil's unique properties through its alufoil BBQ Arena where visitors will be able to see the materials exceptional advantages and versatility as a grilling aid."
European alufoil deliveries down in 2011 – Cautious outlook for 2012
Full year figures for European output of alufoil in 2011 showed a modest decline in overall production levels, reflecting the cautious outlook throughout the European economic markets. However exports from Europe remained steady according to figures released by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA).
Total production fell back by 5.2% to 801,900 tonnes (2010: 846,300 tonnes), with thinner gauges declining by 7.9%. Thicker gauges fared much better registering only a 2.4% drop from 2010 levels. Exports* held up better, down by just 0.7%.
EAFA’s Roller Group Chairman Manfred Mertens commented on the outlook: “The general economic uncertainty affects the whole supply chain. Most retailers and fillers are placing orders on a ‘just in time’ basis and in lower volumes. Forecasting future demand remains difficult. As the longer-term outlook for aluminium is positive, we are cautiously optimistic for the next few months.”
The alufoil sector has the advantage of serving to a large extent FMCG markets which are far less volatile than industrial output. Also, EAFA has joined the UN’s SAVE FOOD campaign, highlighting the value of packaging in reducing food waste.
Calming alufoil production
The economic slow down in Europe also affected the deliveries of aluminium foil in the first nine months of 2011. According to data published by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) the total production declined by almost 4% to 609,000t.
The thinner foil segments mainly used for flexible packaging and household foil fell by 7% while the thicker foil segments declined slightly by 1%. On the other hand exports outside the EAFA region* grew by almost 5%.
Stefan Glimm, EAFA Executive Director, remains cautious for 2011: “Especially in the third quarter we could see destocking as well as a more cautious behaviour along the whole value chain. Aluminium foil has a healthy future because of its advantages as a sustainable and innovative packaging material. It plays an essential role in the prevention of food waste through its excellent barrier and preservation properties.”
Alufoil sector stabilises on high level
After bullish growth rates over the past quarters the aluminium foil deliveries stabilised on a high level according to data published by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA). The production of the European aluminium foil industry slightly declined by 0.9 % to 419,000 t in the first six months of 2011.
Thicker alufoil gauges, used mainly for the manufacture of semi-rigid foil trays and technical applications rose by 1.2 %, while thinner gauges used mainly in flexible packaging and household foil fell by 4.5 %. Exports outside the EAFA region* grew by almost 10 %.
EAFA President François Coëffic remains confident for 2011: “After a destocking phase, especially on converter level, we expect 2011 to remain on track towards one of the best years in alufoil’s history. The European aluminium foil producers will continue its pro-active approach to supply a sustainable and cost-effective packaging option.”
EAFA's foil roller members account for about 98 per cent of the total European foil market and represent nearly all countries in Europe, including Russia and Turkey.
Approximately three quarters of aluminium foil is used in packaging where its characteristics of strength, formability and barrier properties have made it an essential part of many flexible packaging and container applications. Other uses of aluminium foil include automotive and heat exchanger components, insulation material and other industrial applications.
* EAFA region covers Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and UK