Italian packaging machinery industry sets a new record: revenues soar to over 9 billion euros

According to preliminary figures released by the MECS – Ucima (Italian Packaging Machinery Manufacturers’ Association) Research Centre, the Italian packaging technology industry has passed the 9 billion mark for the first time, reaching total sales revenues of 9.05 billion euros in 2023, a 6% increase over 2022. If this is confirmed by the final figures, it will be the third consecutive record after those of 2021 and 2022.

The Italian packaging machinery manufacturers’ sales are driven mainly by exports, which account for 81.3% of revenues and are expected to reach 7.36 billion euros by the end of the year, a 12% increase over 2022. This increase in exports concerns almost all geographical areas. Based on the latest available figures (from January to August), export sales have increased year on year by 25% in North America, 17% in the European Union, 22% in Asia and 31% in South America. In contrast, domestic sales fell by 14% compared to 2022 to 1.68 billion euros.

The industry is also looking ahead confidently to 2024, having already secured 8.2 months’ worth of orders (another record). Nonetheless, a degree of caution is required given the constantly changing geopolitical scenarios, and in addition European countries are awaiting the final EU directives on the use of packaging. The latest developments, however, appear to take account of the specific characteristics and technologies of the individual member states, in which case the Italian sector’s virtuous waste management model will not be impacted.

“In 2023, the issue of component delays has finally been resolved, allowing companies in our sector to focus exclusively on securing and fulfilling orders and in turn enabling them to achieve this new record,” stated Ucima Chairman Riccardo Cavanna. “However, especially in recent months, orders have been falling compared to 2022 and this trend is expected to continue in 2024. The 14% decline in domestic sales is also a cause for concern, demonstrating that the Italian market has been impacted by both the inflationary crisis and uncertainties surrounding Industry 4.0. Our industry and its client sectors require clarity, as well as a new plan that supports both supply and demand. In this regard, the RePowerEU initiative’s allocation of 6.3 billion euros for the Industry 5.0 plan is a positive development, although we would like to know more about how the funds will be distributed and under which criteria. To date, we have heard nothing about incentives for capital goods to facilitate the ecological transition, and we are awaiting a response from the government.”

According to the export figures, the Italian packaging industry has maintained its world leadership position. “Italian-made technologies and solutions continue to attract sustained demand from food, beverage, pharmaceutical, tissue and cosmetics companies all over the world, who appreciate the quality, reliability and innovation that we are able to deliver,” noted Cavanna. “As for innovation, some of our companies have already integrated artificial intelligence solutions into their machines. This is one of the biggest challenges we will face in the coming years, and Ucima is ready to support companies in identifying the best opportunities for their development and international expansion.”

The European Parliament’s latest vote on the packaging directive is a step in the right direction. “Common sense has prevailed,” commented Cavanna. “However, we are waiting to see what the next steps will be, as the process is not yet complete. Ucima has always been at the forefront in defending the Italian way, a model that has established us as a leader in terms of waste recycling. We will continue to work in collaboration with the other associations in the supply chain to defend a system that delivers both environmental and economic advantages.”

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