The members of the Association of Corrugated Board Industry (VDW) sold almost 8 billion square meters of their product in 2018. This is 43 million square meters more than in 2017 and corresponds to a growth of 0.6 percent. This value can be seen both absolute as well in relation to real working day production, since both years have had the same number of working days. As a result, the corrugated board manufacturers are below the forecast growth of 3.9 percent for 2018.
"Two factors are key to our business development: solid growth for our customers in the packaging industry, as well as a continued consumer spending mood," says Dr. Steffen P. Würth, Chairman of the VDW. "Both saw a reasonably satisfactorily development last year. For example, important customer groups in our industry posted growth rates of up to 4.5 percent, which are mainly attributable to a positive domestic growth momentum."
Slight increase in sales corrugated products
For 2019, Würth only expects to see some growth in corrugated board sales of about 1.0 percent, due to some uncertainty factors. According to Würth, among the potential slowing factors there is still a possible disorderly Brexit and the expansion of US trade restrictions. "American punitive tariffs of up to 25 percent would primarily affect the automotive industry in this country, one of the pillars of the German economy," said Würth. "The associated impact on supplier industries would also affect the corrugated industry."
Würth assesses the cost situation of the corrugated board industry as still being difficult. Although prices for corrugated base paper dropped slightly in the fourth quarter of the previous year. "At the end of the year, however, the price level across all grades was still 19.3 percent higher than in January 2017," says Würth. "And wage, energy and logistics costs continued to rise last year." Against the background of these developments, the VDW chairman estimates that this year's collective bargaining agreement of 2.8 percent as of March 1 with ver.di is "very ambitious ".
Interesting sales development
According to Würth, the profit situation of the member companies continues to be strained, as overviews of the proceeds will show. Compared to 2017, average revenue rose by 7.4 percent to 56.8 cents per square meter. "However, this is far from sufficient to even remotely compensate for the accumulated cost increases," says Würth. "A year-on-year decline in revenues of 1.9 percent can be attributed, among other things, to annual bonuses for customers, as well as seasonal effects. Accordingly, the revenue development in January of this year shows an above-average increase of 2.7 percent compared to December 2018. This could at least postpone further aggravating the economic situation in our industry."
The increase in square meter prices averaging 7.4 percent is also reflected in the sales trend. Together with the growth rate of 0.6 percent in the square meters sold, the VDW members' sales revenue increased by 7.9 percent.