Plastics Machinery Shipments: In Sync With Slower Economy, Up From 2021

WASHINGTON — November 17, 2022 — The shipments of primary plastics machinery (injection molding and extrusion) in North America slowed in the third quarter according to the statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).

The preliminary estimate of shipment value from reporting companies totaled $353.8 million in the third quarter of 2022. While this is a decrease of 14.4 percent from the previous quarter, the estimate increased by 6.0 percent from a year earlier. Of the three primary plastics type of machinery, the value of injection molding shipments fell 17.1 percemt in the third quarter. Shipments of single-and twin-screw extruders rose by 4.9 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively, in the third quarter. Compared to the third quarter last year, shipments of single-screw extruders fell by 13.1 percent while shipments of twin-screw extruders rose by 19.3 percent.

“It can be argued that the slowdown in plastics machinery shipment in the third quarter is in sync with the cooling of the U.S. economy. However, compared to the quarterly shipments in 2021 — a stellar year for the plastics industry particularly for plastics equipment suppliers — this year’s third quarter shipments remain above the first three quarters’ shipments last year,” stated Dr. Perc Pineda, PLASTICS chief economic officer. “Historically, there is a bump up in shipments in the fourth quarter. This was the case even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Given supply chain issues due to the pandemic, which have stretched delivery lead time, it would not be surprising to see shipments in the fourth quarter to be above the third quarter. There is also a huge year-end push for businesses to get their manufacturing capacity in gear for the coming year. This should support stable demand for plastics equipment next year, albeit lower than this year because of moderating economic growth”concluded Pineda.

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectations for the future. The outlook of the survey participants, particularly for the next 12 months, has not changed significantly. While 31.3 percent of the survey respondents expect market conditions to either improve or hold steady in the next quarter, 34.4 percent expect market conditions to be steady-to-better, which was marginally lower than the 35.0 percent in the second quarter’s survey results. “The outlook for the next 12 months virtually unchanged from the second suggests that plastics equipment suppliers have considered slower economic growth ahead and have not strategized accordingly for the 2023,” said Pineda.

Plastics machinery exports decreased by 10.2 percent to $198.8 million in the third quarter. Mexico and Canada remained the top export markets of plastics machinery from the U.S. in the third quarter. The combined exports to USMCA partners totaled $109.7 million, which was 65.9 percent of total plastics machinery exports of the U.S. Imports decreased by 12.1 percent to $423.6 million in the third quarter. U.S. plastics machinery trade deficit narrowed from $260.7 million in the second quarter to $224.7 million in the third quarter. Moderating global economic growth and a strong U.S. dollar is slowing plastics machinery trade.

“In sum, the third quarter data is consistent with the projected growth in plastics machinery shipments for the second half of 2022. However, the U.S. manufacturing sector continues to face headwinds — elevated energy prices, rising interest rates, and inflation — which could weigh on the economy’s manufacturing output in 2023,” said Pineda.

Posted: November 17, 2022

Source: Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS)