A year of ups and downs for aluminium foil ends on optimistic note
Despite 2014 providing a very mixed set of results in the aluminium foil sector, overall, it was a satisfactory performance, in the face of continued economic difficulties and competitive influences, according to EAFA, the European Aluminium Foil Association. Total production in Europe reached 852,685 tonnes, just 0.3% below the previous year’s total of 855,510t.
Once again exports put in a strong performance, ending 2014 with a rise of 17.2%, from 84,126 tonnes (2013) to 98,668t (2014), helped by currency factors. In the EAFA region deliveries retreated by 2.2%, recording sales of 754,018 tonnes (2014) compared with 771,385t (2013).
As anticipated, end of year de-stocking saw Q4 deliveries dip by 2.9% compared with 2013, to reach 200,420 tonnes (206,449t). But the rally in demand for thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, seems to be continuing, as year on year totals improved marginally by 1.8%, thanks to a slow recovery of technical markets.
Demand for thinner gauges, used mainly for flexible packaging and household foils, has been weak throughout the period. This was reflected in the small decrease in deliveries, by 1.3. More competition from non-European suppliers and continuing down gauging are mainly responsible for this outcome.
“After a very strong start to the year we experienced a gradual slowdown for the remaining nine months,” said EAFA vice-president and Roller Group chairman, Manfred Mertens. “But the falls for the following three quarters were small or seasonal and deliveries ended only very marginally down for the full 12 month period. In particular the export performance was most encouraging, probably benefiting from the weaker Euro. The more mature European markets are still not seeing strong growth and are affected by increasing competition from outside the area,” he added.
“Optimism remains, however, amongst EAFA foil rollers, that growth in 2015 will accelerate across most markets. The outlook still remains uncertain and it is no easier to predict the next months than it was the last,” concluded Mr Mertens.
Aluminium foil demand remains stable in the firstmonths
Results issued by EAFA, the European Aluminium Foil Association, for the first nine months of 2014 reflect continued sluggish demand in European markets of aluminium foil. But these have been more than offset by the continued strong recovery in export deliveries, resulting in overall sales of 643,000 tonnes, ahead by 1.5% compared with the same period in 2013 (633,000t).
The figures also show an underlying trend of recovery for thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, which have shown a welcome increase in volumes of 6% in the year to date. While demand for thinner gauges, used mainly for flexible packaging and household foils, was flat, recording a small decline of 0.4%.
Total deliveries have stayed in positive territory due entirely to a growth of 24% in exports for the first nine months of 2014. Continuing problems with the recovery of European markets are reflected in a modest fall in sales of 0.8% for the same period.
In the third quarter of 2014 deliveries with 209,000 tonnes remained at almost the same level as 2013 (210,000t). However, once again exports boosted this figure with an increase of 15%, while European demand fell by 2%.
Stefan Glimm, EAFA’s Executive Director commented, “We hope for steady development in the remaining months of 2014, so that overall the year will end with a slight surplus. Despite the increase in exports the competition outside Europe is increasing, so it may not be possible to sustain these levels of growth.”
“In addition the fourth quarter is often the most challenging for aluminium foil producers as our customers de-stock. However, given we are still above 2013 in overall terms, we remain cautiously optimistic about the full year results,” he added.
* EAFA region covers EU 28, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey
Exports drive growth of aluminium foil production in first half of 2014
The European Aluminium Foil Association, EAFA, has reported half year results which continue to show a modest, but steady, recovery in demand for both thin and thicker gauges. This is largely led by a strong showing from exports, which are 28% ahead of 2013. European* deliveries remains flat with demand showing a very small decline of 0.2% compared with last year.
In the six month to June overall production was 434,100t, 2.5% above the 2013 figure (423,000t). Thinner gauges, used mainly for flexible packaging and household foils, held steady with growth of just 0.9%, but continuing the increases seen for the last 5 quarters.
Thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, held on to the gains seen in the first quarter, with deliveries running 6.3% higher than 2013. This year has seen a welcome upturn in demand for these gauges after declines for all of the previous twelve months.
Figures for the second quarter (April to June) recorded a small drop in demand of 0.5%: 212,900t (2013: 214,000t), but this is largely due to seasonal demand factors, says EAFA, and growth is expected to continue throughout the year across all sectors.
Commenting on the first half results, Manfred Mertens EAFA Roller Group Chairman said, “The continuous growth is promising but we have to pay attention to the current political and economic situation in Europe which might affect that growth path. There are still many opportunities for aluminium foil in the food as well as industrial sector due to its special properties.”
Bright start to 2014 for alufoil deliveries in Europe and abroad
Deliveries of both thin and thicker gauges of aluminium foil have made a bright start in the first quarter of 2014, according to figures released recently by EAFA, the European Aluminium Foil Association. In particular exports from Europe recorded an excellent increase compared with the same period in 2013.
Overall alufoil production during the first quarter reached 219,000 tonnes (2013: 208,000t), an increase of 5.5%. After a slowdown through most of last year there was a welcome return to growth for thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, which saw a 10% improvement compared with the first three months of 2013. Thinner gauges, used mainly for flexible packaging and household foils, added 3.3% to continue the steady recovery seen for most of last year.
Inside Europe* the still slow, but improving, economic situation led to a 2.2% increase in production to 193,000 tonnes. Markets outside Europe, where economic activity is increasing sharply, accounted for shipments 26,000 tonnes (2013: 19,000t).
EAFA’s Executive Director Stefan Glimm was very encouraged about the latest results. “This is a highly pleasing set of figures following the challenging year just ended. The very welcome increase in deliveries of thicker gauges indicates that the sectors served by these products may be stabilising, after a prolonged period of uncertainty.”
“The outlook is increasingly optimistic and every quarter of growth gives us more confidence in the recovery,” he added. “But some markets are still fragile so we remain vigilant and have grown accustomed to responding quickly to changes in order to meet customers’ requirements.”
Alufoil markets stable in 2013 as outlook for growth improves
Full year results for the European aluminium foil sector, released by EAFA, the European Aluminium Foil Association, show a stable, but largely flat market in the past twelve months, while the outlook for 2014 is viewed optimistically, with a general recovery in demand expected to gather pace both in Europe and overseas.
Final output figures for the year were 842,700 tonnes, 0.3% ahead of 2012 (840,600t). Q4 results showed production declined by 3.3% to 199,800 tonnes compared with 2012 (206,700t).
Deliveries of thinner gauges, used largely for flexible packaging and household foils, remained positive throughout 2013, although the strong growth figures seen in the first half of the year did not carry on into the second. The decline in demand for thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, continued into Q4, largely caused by ongoing uncertainty in construction and technical markets and depressed demand from overseas.
Exports, after a bright start to the year, tailed off, falling by 0.3% YOY as economic uncertainty in some markets delayed investment plans. However thinner gauges increased deliveries by 1.1% compared with 2012, while thicker gauges recorded a downturn of 1.1%.
Manfred Mertens, EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group Chairman commented, “After such a strong start to 2013 it was a little disappointing that the trend did not continue through the rest of the year. But the slower than expected economic recovery in Southern Europe and some of our key export markets held back demand, particularly for thicker gauges.”
“We see clear signs that the activity in 2014 is improving in all areas for both thin and thicker gauges. So we continue to be cautiously optimistic that markets are recovering all the time. It should not be forgotten either that thinner gauge deliveries increased throughout 2013, despite the challenging market conditions,” Mertens added.
Total Alufoil Deliveries Stay Positive at Q3 Despite Weaker Demand
Overall Year To Date (YTD) deliveries from Europe’s aluminium foil manufacturers stayed ahead of comparative figures for 2012, despite a weakening in demand through the summer. At 639,100 tonnes the totals are 0.8% higher than for the same 9 month period last year.
Demand for thinner foils, used largely for flexible packaging and household foils, has been continuously positive throughout 2013 and once again performed well in a sluggish summer market. Figures were 0.6% ahead in Q3 compared with 2012. But thicker foils, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, continue to struggle, with deliveries falling by 1.3% against the same three month period a year ago. Total alufoil deliveries in Q3 were 1.6% down at 207,300 tonnes.
In addition the figures were affected by slower demand in overseas markets which have been experiencing strong growth in the previous 6 months. Deliveries for trade outside the European area fell by 5.1%*. Although, taken as a whole, the first nine months of 2013 has seen good performance in exports.
YTD figures for thinner foils are still 1.5% above 2012, while deliveries of thicker gauges are down, by 1%. Exports remain 1.5% above the levels achieved last year.
“Until there is a sustained recovery in European markets we will continue to see these figures fluctuate,” said EAFA’s Executive Director Stefan Glimm, “We are still maintaining a cautious, but optimistic, outlook for the whole of 2013.”
“Some recovery was experienced in both export markets and Europe during September. So we believe these figures are just another ‘bump’, which we have been experiencing for several quarters. Our members are becoming used to these ups and downs and take a longer, and positive, view of the market prospects,” he added.
Europe is still experiencing a very slow recovery and as demand for thicker foils relies on technical applications and construction, as well as packaging, volumes continue to be lower.
Steady progress for alufoil continues as overall tonnage improves again
Deliveries of aluminium foil products continued to move ahead in the second quarter of 2013, confirming that the recovery in demand seen in 2012 continues. Overall production for the year to date reached 419,800t, a rise of 2.5% compared with the first half of 2012 (409,500). Exports too maintained momentum, increasing by 3.2% in the second quarter of 2013, helping first half sales outside the European market to an impressive 6.6% rise.
Q2 results showed thinner gauges, used largely for flexible packaging and household foils, once again led the way with a rise of 2.3%. Thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, dropped back by just 1.8%, indicating recovery is more uneven for these products. Total deliveries, at 210,400t achieved a rise of 1.3% compared with Q2 2012.
An encouraging sign for thicker gauges is that the deliveries in the first six months of 2013 remained positive at +0.3%, evidence that this sector of the market is finally stabilising after a lengthy period of declining demand.
Cautious optimism seems to be the mood among EAFA’s members. EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group Chairman Manfred Mertens commented, “While the outlook is still somewhat uncertain there are clear signs that the trend is upward, although there may still be some negative quarters in some areas, the ‘downs’ seem to be smaller and the ‘ups’ larger.”
“Our members are now very experienced at dealing with this situation and have adapted to the market climate positively and imaginatively. Some factors, such as the financial and investment conditions as well as likewise credit lines are outside our control and we have very limited influence on these areas," added Manfred Mertens.
Exports continue to perform well, despite some slowdown in demand from Asian markets as their rates of economic growth decline. In the second quarter of 2013 export sales improved by 3.2% compared with the same quarter of 2012. This continues to be a major factor in the recovery, according to EAFA.
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 ninemonths of 2012 showed a positive development for the European manufacturers ofaluminium foil. According to European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) 618,500tonnes were delivered in the three quarters (2011: 611,400 tonnes),representing an increase of 1.2%.
Thinner gauges mainly for flexible packaging andhousehold foil were up more than one cent while thicker gauges typically usedfor semi-rigid containers and technical applications decreased five per cent. Exportsoutside the EAFA region further improved by twelve per cent, indicating arecovery in demand from emerging markets and others outside Europe.
Manfred Mertens,EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group Chairman, comments the situation: “The slightincrease in deliveries should last at least until the end of the year althoughthe uncertainties of the economic situation in the near future grow. The trendfor short deliveries continues making predictions and planning more difficult.The European aluminium foil producers can partly serve those needs with theirflexibility and close to market operations.“
European Alufoil Manufacturers optimistic for the full year 2012
After a slow start into the year 2012 the Europeanmanufacturers of aluminium foil saw clear signs of recovery in the secondquarter. According to European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) 411,500 tonneswere delivered in the first six months (2011: 420 100 tonnes), representing adecrease of two per cent.
Thinner gauges mainly for flexible packaging andhousehold foil were down two per cent while thicker gauges typically used forsemi-rigid containers and technical applications dipped almost eight per cent.A major boost came from exports which leapt by almost ten per cent, indicatinga recovery in demand from emerging markets and others outside Europe.
However, these figures mask a better performance inthe 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 of2012 showed a decline on the previous year there are signs of recovery indeliveries. Stefan Grimm, Executive Director of EAFA commented, “The outlookfor alufoil production in 2012 is optimistic for the third and fourth quarter.We are confident that total production for the whole year will match resultsfrom last year. The second quarter results were very encouraging after a periodof negative figures.”
“There is an increasing demand for short termdeliveries, rather than longer term ordering which can affect these results,”he added.
European Alufoil Production starts calm into 2012
The start into2012 was calm for the European aluminium foil manufactures in line with the Europeaneconomic markets. The first three months showed an overall shipments decreaseof almost five per cent to 204,000t compared to last year’s first quarter accordingto figures published by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA).
Thinner gaugesmostly used for flexible packaging and household foil declined by almost sixper cent. The shipments of thicker foil segments typically used for semi-rigidcontainer and technical applications fell by almost ten per cent. However,exports* from Europe rose by almost nine per cent underlining the competivenessof the European foil rollers on a global level.
Commenting the startof the year and the outlook EAFA’s Executive Director Stefan Glimm said: “Theslow start reflects the overall European economic situation with quite stableregions and less performing areas. The prevention of food waste through itsexcellent barrier and preservation properties should provide aluminium foil ahealthy future.
"Expectations are positive for the rest of 2011 with a number ofevents providing the aluminium foil sector with the opportunity to show off itspackaging and industrial prowess. At interpack 2011, EAFA will be showcasingmany of alufoil's unique properties through its alufoil BBQ Arena where visitorswill be able to see the materials exceptional advantages and versatility as agrilling 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.
From 2014: * EAFA region covers EU 28, Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey
Until 2013: * 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