Mixed fortunes forecast for €159.2bn European print market

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Tuesday 17 January 2017

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Smithers Pira has valued the European printing market in 2016 at €159.2bn (£138bn) and says a "changing landscape" can be expected over the next five years.

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The value of the European printing market is set to increase slightly to €159.8bn in 2021

The market is in decline in constant value terms, the organisation said, falling from €169.1bn in 2011, with print volume down by 18%. This equates to 13.2 trillion A4 prints and consumption of just over 68 million tonnes of printing substrates.

Smithers Pira, which formulated the data using original research, existing data and feedback from suppliers of ink, presses, paper and consumables to validate figures, forecasts further volume declines in the coming years.

Print volume is set to fall by an average of 1.6% annually in the years to 2021 though the value of the European printing market is set to increase slightly to €159.8bn, largely thanks to Eastern European growth.

Smithers Pira said the European print market is driven by changes in the end-user communication preferences of individuals, who now have greater choice in communication with new channels including social media replacing print products.

The report said print demand is driven by factors including advertising expenditure and the economic environment, with current economic uncertainty across Europe determining much of the confidence in government, business and individuals, and their ability or desire to spend money on print.

“Much print promotes goods and services where it is in competition with other media, with new channels grabbing share of the expenditure, at the expense of print in many cases,” said author of the report, Smithers Pira print consultant Sean Smyth.

“Print will succeed if it is cost-effective, relevant, easy to use and understand, and demonstrably sustainable. It also has to prove to those who specify that it is cost-effective against alternative media.”

In terms of market share by value, the packaging sector represented 44.7% in 2011 and this is forecast to rise to 56.6% in 2021. Publication print made up 22.2% in 2011, but this is set to fall to 14.4% in 2021, and graphics print, which made up 33.1% in 2011, is forecast to drop to 29% in 2021.

Smyth attributed the success of the packaging sector to growing populations and smaller households, more varieties of products in supply chains, and no electronic alternatives from the physical properties protecting and promoting the contents.

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