Packaging Machinery Shipments Rebound in 2004

After a slow-growth year in 2003, the value of U.S. packaging machinery shipments jumped by 9.3 percent last year, trade group says.

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The value of U.S. packaging machinery shipments reached $5.3 billion in 2004, a 9.3 percent increase over the $4.9 billion worth of equipment shipped in 2003, according to a recent report from the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), an Arlington, Va.-based trade association.

The 2004 results were a welcome improvement over 2003, when U.S. domestic shipments were down by 3.8 percent over the prior year, and overall U.S. sales, including exports, rose by just 1.7 percent.

Exports of U.S.-made packaging machinery remained strong last year, rising by 12.5 percent to a value of slightly more than $1 billion, up from $952 million in 2003. That was the first time since PMMI began tracking the numbers in 1993 that exports have topped the $1 billion mark, the association said. Further, exports as a percentage of total U.S. packaging machinery shipments reached 20 percent in 2004 for the first time since 1997, when exports were 21 percent of total U.S. shipments, PMMI added.

The U.S. domestic market for packaging machinery, meanwhile, grew by 9.8 percent in 2004 to $5.6 billion. Of that total, $4.3 billion came from domestic shipments, up by 8.5 percent from 2003, while imports to the U.S. market grew by 14.2 percent last year to $1.3 billion, PMMI said. Canadian packaging machinery shipments grew by 8.4 percent in 2004 to an estimated $324 million, according to the report.

PMMI attributed the 2004 increased spending levels to a variety of factors, including improved U.S. and Canadian capital spending due to stronger economic fundamentals; large order backlogs that were already on the books at the end of 2003; U.S. investment tax credits; continued high levels of machinery replacement activity; and a resurgence of strength in the food and beverage products markets, which typically accounts for 2/3 of packaging machinery annual shipment volumes.

The report, PMMI’s 11th Annual Shipments and Outlook Study, projects that U.S. shipments of packaging machines will grow at a cumulative annual rate of 3.8 percent over the next three years, rising to just short of $6 billion by 2007.

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