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Ongoing changes in the internet age will lead to packaging print taking the major share of the print market by the end of the decade, according to industry analysts Smithers.

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Packaging print: to be major part of industry

It also says that by 2030 the boundaries between different sectors will blur further, with more functionality being integrated into many products. By 2030 publishing will make up nearly 40 per cent of print volume in 2030, but will still be the biggest loser in the market.

Smithers also says that as some markets diminish, many print suppliers are diversifying into new activities, servicing more of their particular customer value chains.

According to the report, the global print industry was worth US$743bn in 2020, down 13.4 per cent compared to the previous year, the last non-Covid year. Publication, advertising, and graphic applications suffered the greatest impact, while packaging and label markets proved more resilient.

Smithers says that value growth will return to push the market to US$846bn in 2030, but says the total volume of print substrates will fall, from 1.95 trillion square meters in 2019, to 1.85 trillion square meters by 2030.

Smithers analysts say that Covid has accelerated the trends that were already in the market, with the print landscape of 2030 looking very different to that of 2020. These trends will lead to profound changes in print markets by 2030.

It also says the publications sector will continue to shrink, saying that most of the work lost in Covid will not return, with the volume of graphic papers used continuing to fall, while the use of packaging materials with heavier weights will rise.
Due to the increased use of heavier packaging materials, overall tonnage of print substrates will increase from 251 million tonnes in 2020 to 264 million tonnes in 2030.

Smithers forecasts that the number of print business will fall, through both company collapses and mergers / acquisitions. Smithers says those print businesses that succeed will be those that place an emphasis on cost, responsiveness and digitisation of process. It says the Amazon effect will mean print businesses needing to give same day or next day turnarounds for many jobs.

It also predicts AI and robotics will come to play a major part in print production, with operators mainly tasked to solve problems arising in what will be an automated workflow and production process, although it says AI machine learning will enable machines to make decisions on print and finishing quality.

The Smithers report is available to buy, for $6500, by clicking here.

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