Shipments of primary plastics machinery (injection molding and extrusion) in North America increased in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to the statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).
The preliminary estimate of total shipment value according to reporting companies totaled $432.7 million in the final quarter of 2022. The 22.3% increase in the fourth quarter illustrated a turnaround from the 14.4% decrease previously shown in the third quarter. Compared to just a year earlier, shipments increased by a total of 4.4%. Of the three primary type of plastics machinery, the value of single-screw extruders increased by the highest amount at 34.6%, followed by injection molding shipments which increased by 25.0% from the third quarter. Shipments of twin-screw extruders increased by 8.9% from the third quarter. Compared to the fourth quarter last year, shipments of single and twin-screw extruders increased 7.6% and 25.0%, respectively. Injection molding shipments were 2.9% higher compared to one year earlier.
“The U.S. economy pulled through in the second half of 2022,” according to Dr. Perc Pineda, Chief Economist for the PLASTICS Industry Association. “The increase in plastics machinery shipments in the fourth quarter speaks of the importance of plastics manufacturing and the stable demand for plastic and plastic products in the economy last year. As expected, the increase includes shipments of backlog production resulting from supply chain problems in previous quarters.”
The CES also conducts a quarterly survey to plastics machinery suppliers requesting their perspective of market conditions and expectations for equipment. Survey results showed that there was an increase in the percentage of participants expecting market conditions in the next quarter to remain unchanged or to improve to 35.5% from 31.3%. Likewise, survey participants expect to see market conditions over the next twelve months remain unchanged or improve from 34.4% to 45.2%.
Plastics machinery exports decreased by 10.2% to $198.8 million in the third quarter. Mexico and Canada remained the top export markets of plastics machinery from the U.S. in the third quarter. The combined exports to USMCA partners totaled $109.7 million, which represented 65.9% of total plastics machinery exports from the U.S.
Imports decreased by 12.1% to $423.6 million in the third quarter. The U.S. plastics machinery trade deficit narrowed from $260.7 million in the second quarter to $224.7 million in the third quarter. This shows us that moderating global economic growth and a strong U.S. dollar is slowing down the plastics machinery trade.
“It is still expected that the U.S. economy will continue adjusting to its long-run growth rate after robust recovery in 2021 from the pandemic,” added Dr. Pineda. “Strong economic data earlier this year supports the argument of further financial tightening by the Federal Reserve to bring the economy back to an inflation rate that promotes sustainable level of output growth. I had previously said that Q4 2022 shipments would surpass Q3 2022 shipments—and that’s exactly what we got,” concluded Pineda.