Canadian Plastics

North American plastics machinery shipments up in third quarter over last year

The increase in shipments was consistent with higher plastics production.

December 14, 2021   Canadian Plastics

The shipments of plastics injection molding and extrusion machinery in North America increased in the third quarter of 2021, according to a new report from the Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) of the Plastics Industry Association.

According to CES, the preliminary estimate of shipment value from reporting companies totaled US$333.8 million for July through September, which is an increase of 8.8 per cent compared to the same quarter of 2020, and up four per cent over the second quarter of 2021.

The value of shipments of twin-screw extruders rose significantly by 44.4 per cent in the third quarter, CES said, and was 61.2 per cent above the third quarter last year. “In the third quarter, shipments of single-screw extruders rose by 7.2 per cent from the previous quarter and 15.9 per cent from the third quarter last year,” CES said. “Injection molding shipments edged up 1.6 per cent from the second quarter and 5.7 per cent from a year earlier.”

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“Plastics equipment shipments picked up in the third quarter as the economy continued to emerge from the pandemic,” said Perc Pineda, Ph.D. the chief economist of the Washington, D.C.-based Plastics Industry Association. “Moreover, the increase in shipments was consistent with higher plastics production, which in the third quarter rose 4.2 per cent or 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. The upward-sloping demand for plastics equipment has not changed.”

Plastics machinery exports increased by 6.1 per cent to US$390.2 million from the second quarter, meanwhile, with Mexico and Canada remaining the top export markets of plastics machinery from the U.S. The combined exports to USMCA partners in the third quarter totaled US$172.6 million, CES said, which was 44.2 per cent of total plastics machinery exports. Imports fell by 3.0 per cent to US$848.4 million, resulting in a US$458.3 million trade deficit. “The U.S. plastics machinery trade deficit decreased by 9.6 per cent in the third quarter,” CES said. “U.S. trade data in the third quarter are in sync with the improving global trade outlook.”

The World Trade Organization now expects a 10.8 per cent increase in global merchandise trade this year, CES said, which is an upward revision from its 8.4 per cent projection in March.

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectations for the future. In the third quarter survey, 75.5 per cent of respondents expect market conditions to either improve or hold steady in the coming quarter – lower than the 92.7 per cent of respondents who expressed the same view in the second quarter’s survey. “As for the next 12 months, 75.0 per cent expect market conditions to be steady-to-better,” CES said. “This is lower than the 78.7 per cent of respondents in the previous quarter’s survey who were expecting growth in the next 12 months.”

“While the survey results show that growth expectations have moderated, it also reveals that plastics machinery suppliers remain optimistic about market conditions four quarters ahead,” Pineda said.