Canadian Plastics

Decline in North American primary plastics machinery shipments in Q3 2023, report says

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Following a 1.5% gain in shipments during the second quarter, the Plastics Industry Association report says, there was a reversal resulting in a 1.5% loss in Q3.

The shipment value of injection molding and extrusion machinery in North American in the third quarter of 2023 was US$345.8 million, marking a 1.5% decrease from the revised figure of US$351.0 million in the previous quarter, a new report from the Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) of the Plastics Industry Association says.

And compared to the same period last year, the report said, there’s been a 2.3% decrease in the value of shipments.

For primary plastics machinery types, single-screw extruders have seen a “notable surge,” the report continued, with a 30.5% increase in quarter-over-quarter (Q/Q) analysis and an even more substantial 75.3% increase year-over-year (Y/Y). “Twin-screw extruders also demonstrated a robust 30.3% Q/Q increase, though with a more moderate 2.9% Y/Y increment,” the report said. “On the other hand, injection molding continued its decline in shipments, experiencing a 2.3% decrease Q/Q and an 8.0% decrease Y/Y, marking the third consecutive quarter of decline.”

Image Credit: Plastics Industry Association

“At the start of this year, there was a double-digit decline in primary plastics machinery shipments,” said Dr. Perc Pineda, chief economist at the Washington, D.C.-based Plastics Industry Association. “Following a 1.5% gain in shipments during the second quarter, there was a reversal, resulting in a 1.5% loss in the third quarter. The decline in shipments seems to have moderated on both a quarterly and year-over-year basis, aligning with the rising economic output from the first to the third quarter of this year.”


In Q3 2023, the report said, U.S. exports of plastics equipment surged impressively by 7.2% from the previous quarter, marking a substantial 36.3% increase from a year earlier, totaling US$270.9 million. More than half of these exports (55.4%) were directed to Mexico and Canada, totaling US$150.1 million. Meanwhile, imports saw a decrease of 16.5% from the previous quarter and 9.5% from a year earlier, resulting in a total of US$383.0 million. “This shift led to a significant 45.5% decrease in the plastics equipment trade deficit, which reached US$112.1 million,” the report said.

Looking ahead, the report continued, the trajectory of plastics machinery will continue to be influenced by the prevailing high-interest rate environment, especially the inversion of interest rates. “Despite the resilience displayed by the U.S. economic output, primarily propelled by robust consumer engagement, the economy’s transition toward a consistent output growth and a stable inflation rate has been somewhat delayed,” Pineda said. “While the demand for plastics is anticipated to remain steady, fluctuations in manufacturing could impact business investment decisions.”

And in the most recent quarterly survey conducted by CES among plastics machinery suppliers to gauge their outlook on market conditions and equipment expectations, the results indicated a rise in participants anticipating an improvement in market conditions over the next twelve months compared to the previous year. “The percentage of those expecting conditions to either remain the same or improve rose to 56.1%,” the report said.


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