Canadian Plastics

North American machinery shipments slowed in the second quarter

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While new orders of plastics equipment have been increasing, ongoing supply chain issues are causing longer order-to-delivery timelines, a new report from the Plastics Industry Association says.

Shipments of primary plastics machinery (injection molding and extrusion) in North America decreased for the second consecutive quarter of 2021, according to the statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).

In a Sept. 7 news release, the Washington, D.C.-based organization said the preliminary estimate of shipment value from reporting companies totalled US$320.9 million in Q2 2021, which marks a decrease of 4.2% following the 11.1% decrease in Q1 2021. Compared to Q2 2020, however, plastics machinery shipments rose by 21.2%.

The value of shipments of single-screw extruders increased significantly by 33.1% from Q1 2021, CES said, but twin-screw extruders and injection molding shipments fell by 24.9% and 4.9%, respectively. Compared to Q2S 2020, shipments of injection molding, single- and twin-screw extruders were 19.5%, 37.8%. and 32.3% higher, respectively.


“While new orders of plastics equipment have been increasing, ongoing supply chain issues – shortage of parts and components – are causing longer order-to-delivery timelines. This explains the decrease in shipments in the second quarter,” said Perc Pineda, chief economist for the association. “For the third consecutive quarter, plastics equipment shipments were higher from a year earlier. This means that the underlying trend in plastics equipment demand remains upward sloping – still in sync with the robust economic recovery.”

Q2 2021 plastics machinery total exports decreased by 6.9% to US$367.6 million from Q1 2021, CES found, with Canada and Mexico remaining the top export markets of plastics machinery from the U.S. The combined exports to USMCA partners in Q2S 2021 totalled US$177.2 million, CES said, which was 48.2% of total exports of plastics machinery. Imports rose by 3.5% to US$874.0 million, resulting in a US$506.8 million trade deficit. The U.S. plastics machinery trade deficit increased by 12.6% in Q2 2021.

“The volume of merchandise trade is expected to increase this year as global economic conditions improve,” CES said. “The World Trade Organization expects to see an 8.4% increase in global merchandise trade this year.”

CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectations for the future. In the Q2 2021 survey, 92.7% of respondents expect market conditions to either improve or hold steady in the coming quarter – marginally lower than the 93.5% of respondents who expressed the same view in the Q1 2021 survey. “As for the next 12 months, 78.7% expect market conditions to be steady-to-better,” CES said. “This is lower than the 93.0% of respondents in the previous quarter’s survey who were expecting growth in the next 12 months.”


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