Double-Digit Growth in Plastics Shipments in the Third Quarter

November 17, 2020

Shipments of primary plastics machinery (injection molding and extrusion) in North America increased by double-digits in the third quarter, according to statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES)

The preliminary estimate of shipments value from reporting companies totaled $306.7 million. It was a 15.8% increase, following a 4.5% increase in the second quarter. Compared to the third quarter last year, plastics machinery shipments were 4.6% higher. The value of shipments of single- and twin-screw extruders grew 27.4% and 17.5%, respectively, in the third quarter. Shipments of injection molding equipment were up 15.0% from the previous quarter and 7.9% above the third quarter last year.

“Shipments of plastics machinery have increased for two consecutive quarters. The double-digit increases in the third quarter are in sync with the quicker-than-expected turnaround in other plastics end-markets in addition to healthcare and consumer essentials,” according to Perc Pineda, PhD Chief Economist of PLASTICS. “Most likely, shipments of machinery will also increase in the final quarter of 2020 as the economy continues to recover.”

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers asking about present market conditions and expectations for the future. In the coming quarter, 76.0% of respondents expect conditions to either improve or hold steady compared to a year ago – higher than the 36.0% that felt similarly in the second quarter. As for the next 12 months, 89.8% expect market conditions to be steady-to-better, significantly above the 48.0% in the previous quarter’s survey.

“It appears that the second quarter was the trough of the business cycle, as the economy slowed due to the pandemic. Recent data point to an industry that’s moving towards the pre-COVID-19 level of activity. The industrial production index on plastics products manufacturing rose for five consecutive months through September,” said Pineda.

“The plastics industry is an essential industry, and businesses stayed open to ensure uninterrupted supply for products in the healthcare sector,” he said. “The pace of economic recovery, however, is not without risks, and its path will depend to a great extent on the containment of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the overall outlook for plastics machinery and the industry has turned more favorable in recent months,” Pineda added.

Plastics machinery exports in the third quarter totaled $298.8 million—a 3.4% increase from the previous quarter. Imports rose by 16.2% to $754.6 million, resulting in a $455.8 million trade deficit, 26.4% larger than the previous quarter. Canada and Mexico remained the top export markets for U.S. equipment suppliers in the third quarter. The combined exports to the USMCA trade partners totaled $124.5 million—representing 41.7% of total U.S. plastics machinery exports in the third quarter.

About PLASTICS Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES)

The PLASTICS Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) collects monthly data from manufacturers of plastic injection molding, extrusion, blow molding, hot runners and auxiliary equipment. A confidential, third-party fiduciary, Vault Consulting, LLC, compiles the monthly data and analyzes individual company data for consistency and accuracy. Once this crucial process is completed, Vault aggregates and disseminates reports to participating companies. If this is something you and your company are interested in, please contact Katie Hanczaryk at [email protected] or 202-974-5296.

About Plastics Industry Association

The Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), is the only organization that supports the entire plastics supply chain, representing over one million workers in the $432 billion U.S. industry. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members and the industry more globally competitive while advancing recycling and sustainability. To learn more about PLASTICS’ education initiatives, industry-leading insights and events, networking opportunities and policy advocacy, and North America’s largest plastics trade show, NPE: The Plastics Show, visit Connect with PLASTICS   on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and Instagram.