Nothing says "Netherlands" quite like "bicycles."
Some “Converting Curmudgeon” bullet points of interest:
- Release liners’ diverse end-use markets have seen demand increase across most of the world’s economies, creating growth opportunities in almost all segments. And while 72% of all respondents consider their companies to be truly global, about 55% believe that globalization is not the only way
to achieve business growth.
- At the same time, almost half of respondents expect that product standards will become global by 2023.
Mergers & Acquisitions
- Seventy-three percent of respondents anticipate M&A activity will affect their business in the next five years. This is up 7% over the 2017 survey. As with past surveys, companies find it easier to achieve their growth objectives via acquisitions rather than just organically.
- Five years from now, 57% of respondents say M&A activity in the release-liner industry will increase, and a full third think it will pretty much remain the same.
Costs & Profitability
- All respondents said they experienced unprecedented cost increases in 2017 – from labor and energy to transportation and materials. In the next year, about half of survey respondents foresee all these costs to rise again, however a small share – 10% -- expect their materials, labor and energy costs to fall.
- Among all respondents, 32% said their stocking levels (for inventory management) increased, 28% said it stayed the same, and four out of 10 said it was lower in 2017 vs. 2016.
- About 75%% replied that their investment in new product development increased last year. Sixty-five percent boosted their R&D investment, and 60% increased capital-equipment investment. By 2021, 80% anticipate greater investment in new products, 70% foresee higher investment in R&D, and 65% expect greater capital-equipment investment.
Business Sentiment & Innovation
- The release-liner industry in general feels it has made incremental improvements in products and services in recent years. The perception is that release-liner innovations are driven by end-use market demands. There are also increased levels of forward or backward integration to achieve cost savings – largely by UV silicone.
- A surprisingly broad range of responses came in from respondents when asked where expected innovations in release liner could emerge. From the top down, they included coating or surface treatment or base materials, structures of release liner, raw materials generally, new liner applications, biomaterials, nanotechnology, liner release coating, overall manufacturing processes, and current end-product systems.
Sustainability & Environment
- Sustainability is a major concern for businesses today, and the release-liner industry is no exception. About 85% of respondents say sustainability/recyclability/eco initiatives are important to their businesses today.
- Fifty-five percent say they’ve taken measurable efforts so far to address eco issues; only about 10% think issues about recycling release-liner waste are affecting their business; and one-third say these issues will continue to have a major effect on business by 2023.
- While only 26% of respondents (down from 28% last year) say they are involved in a program to recycle/reuse spent release liner, their answers were fairly non-specific regarding how to accomplish this. Still, in the pressure-sensitive/self-adhesive label market, companies along the value chain are able to access
- Survey respondents in North American and Asian markets seem most optimistic about growth in their individual businesses in 2018, followed by Europeans.
- Perceived market-price pressure, customers not paying their bills or going out of business, and the availability of raw materials had the highest negative ratings last year among various factors influencing the release-liner industry.
- Among higher growth rates expected this year, 70% of Asian companies surveyed say business will be
up 4-7% over 2017; almost half of North American and slightly fewer European businesses foresee the same growth rate.
- Conversely, nearly half of African & Middle Eastern businesses expect zero-percent growth in 2018,
while 25% of South American converters forecast similar non-growth this year.