Strong order book for 2015-16 financial year

Monocarton round-up — faster, higher, stronger

A 6-color coater UV is practically a standard configuration for the Indian industry now with several 7-color plus coater UV presses already installed including presses with a cold foil in-line option in the past year

The 2014-15 financial year saw significant capacity growth in the monocarton industry with about 16 brand new packaging configuration presses imported. However, although folding cartons volume grew, price realization remained under pressure. There were a number of orders of presses that go beyond the 6-color coater UV which is practically a standard configuration for the Indian industry. In the year gone by several 7-color plus coater UV presses were installed including presses with a cold foil in-line option.

Several presses which can be said to be the overflow from the last financial year have been installed in April itself and several others are under shipment. Thus we should have a large number of packaging configuration offset presses installs in the April to June quarter of the 2015-16 financial year.

It seems that the basic packaging configuration in India is the 28 x 40-inch 6-color plus coater full UV press — (meaning three interdeck and an end-of-line UV curing cassette). Ironically, we have described this configuration as the dream machine for about ten years and now this has become a basic must have configuration especially for the large number of carton printers and converters who have been managing with used presses and also for many of the new entrants or lateral migrants from commercial printing. Even many of the monocarton suppliers to the pharmaceutical industry who earlier insisted that they do not need UV curing for their type of cartons are now convinced that full UV configurations are
needed to grow their business.

2The leading three or four monocarton suppliers continue to try and create a distance between themselves and the rest of the market (apart from keeping up with each other). They continue to add locations, and to buy presses with increased automation and logistics, 7 and 8-color presses with foilers. Essentially they continue to choose from a handy list of speed and technology options such as interchangeable UV curing casettes, ink agitators and temperature controls that can add speed, value, differentiation and possibly efficiency provided their customers the consumer product companies can utilize the new capabilities with innovative packaging design.

In the April 2015 to March 2016 financial year, the number of packaging configuration presses installed are likely to be around the same as the previous year — about 15 to 17. However, the number of 74 and 75 cm presses are likely to decline and most of the installs will be 28 x 40-inch presses since the price differential is not nearly as much as the size difference. Similarly many carton producers are now looking at 7-color coater presses which bodes well for brand owners so that they can develop new carton designs using more colors without worrying about their viability in production.

There continue to be new entrants to the monocarton segment — from both commercial printing and also from plants supported or owned by brand owners and exporters themselves. In addition there are a large number of converters who can no longer continue to compete with their second hand presses. Thus they are part of a considerable replacement market as are many of the multiple leading converters who are replacing their 7 and 10-year-old new bought presses for newer technology presses. For the leading converters this can mean the wholesale replacement of four presses with three new technology presses that have new automation technology, value add options, are raised on ever-higher plinths and are of course a bit faster.

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As we present our 2024 publishing plan, India’s real GDP growth for the financial year ending 31 March 2024 will exceed 6%. The packaging industry growth will match the GDP growth in volume terms and surpass it by at least 3% in terms of nominal growth allowing for price inflation in energy, raw materials, consumables, and capital equipment.

The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 45% over the past four years. With orders in place, we expect another 20% capacity addition in 2024 and 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels are growing similarly. As the consumption story returns over the next six months, we expect demand to return and exceed the growth trajectory of previous years. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – and as shown by our analytics, our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

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– Naresh Khanna (25 October 2023)

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Naresh Khanna
Editor of Indian Printer and Publisher since 1979 and Packaging South Asia since 2007. Trained as an offset printer and IBM 360 computer programmer. Active in the movement to implement Indian scripts for computer-aided typesetting. Worked as a consultant and trainer to the Indian print and newspaper industry. Visiting faculty of IDC at IIT Powai in the 1990s. Also founder of IPP Services, Training and Research and has worked as its principal industry researcher since 1999. Author of book: Miracle of Indian Democracy. Elected vice-president of the International Packaging Press Organization in May 2023.