German Federal Assn. of Printing and Media report says printing industry was hampered by materials shortages, especially for graphic paper, increased costs of energy, intermediate goods, supply bottlenecks in 2021; war in Ukraine dampens prospects in 2022

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BERLIN , July 11, 2022 (press release) –

The industry report of the Federal Association of Printing and Media (bvdm) confirms the sensitive situation of the industry after the historic collapse of the corona pandemic. Increasing order numbers and a revitalized overall economy faced increasing burdens from delivery bottlenecks and cost increases in 2021. Since the beginning of the year, the imponderables of the Ukraine war have given further cause for concern.

The recovery of the industry after the corona-related restrictions at the beginning of 2021 was noticeably slowed down by the increasing shortage of materials, especially for graphic paper, and the increased costs for energy and intermediate goods. Overall, a mixed picture emerges. The nominal sales of companies with 50 or more employees fell by 2.1 percent in 2021. However, the seasonally and calendar-adjusted production index increased by 1.5 percent compared to the corona year 2020. Positive developments were noticeable both in the printing service sectors and in books and other printed matter. Their production by value increased by 3.4 percent, 6.2 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. However, the declines in the production value of newspapers/advertising papers (-6, 5 percent) and magazines (-6.8 percent) that not all sectors have benefited from the recovery. It was therefore not possible for the majority of companies to return to the production and sales figures of the pre-corona years.

Delivery bottlenecks and cost increases are noticeably slowing down the recovery in the printing and media industry

The burden of supply bottlenecks and cost increases had a particularly severe impact in 2021. With the end of the corona restrictions, a special boom driven by catch-up effects ensured a rapid improvement in the order situation. However, the increasing demand was met with reduced production capacities for primary products and logistical difficulties. The result was increasing bottlenecks in supplying the printing industry with graphic paper. The material shortage index calculated by the bvdm based on ifo data was on average around 50 percent above the values ​​for 2020. This not only affected the acceptance of new orders, but also made it difficult to convert existing orders into sales. The associated price increases for energy and intermediate goods also put a strain on companies in terms of costs. These could only be partially passed on through the increase in sales prices and further reduced the already low profit margins of the printing and media companies.

Recovery prospects remain limited

After a brief phase of easing at the beginning of the year, the outlook for print and media companies clouded over when the war in Ukraine began. In particular, the rising prices for energy sources and the imponderables of gas supply security give cause for concern. In addition to the ongoing supply bottlenecks, there will also be a drastically increasing shortage of skilled workers in 2022. Hopes for a gradual relaxation of the difficult economic situation were dashed for the time being. The further development in the printing and media industry will depend not only on overall economic growth but also on the further course of the factors mentioned. (bvdm)

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