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PACKING AND PACKAGING: INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION IN MACHINERY TO WIN WORLDWIDE
Manufacturers of automatic machines for packing and packaging stand out in the Italian production world; this is a sector which, although it has not been spared by the crisis, has not allowed itself to become destabilised and has placed the emphasis on its well-established ability to export to markets that have been less affected by the credit crunch.
"I'm not saying that the domestic market is negligible,” explains Giuseppe Lesce, president of Ucima (Union of Italian Manufacturers of Machines for Packing and Packaging ), the association that brings together more than 100 companies, a more than representative share of the sector, “indeed we have guarded it well, but in 2009 exports represented 88% of turnover. Last year, many foreign markets experienced a decline, but there were important exceptions, and we have been able to work well with those. I’m thinking of China, where our exports rose by 28% or India, where we recorded growth of 21 percent. We like playing the whole field,” Lesce stresses. I have mentioned China and India, but South-East Asia in general is an area of great interest, not to mention Brazil, where our exports grew 80% last year, while Russia is showing signs of recovery.” As for Western markets, “recovery is slower in Europe and North America, but this does not mean that they have become markets to ignore, indeed they continue to be very important.” For the sector of automatic machines for packing and packaging, the propensity to export is not an improvised quality but a feature of genetic makeup. "What is interesting to note,” adds the president of Ucima, “is that the 88% of exports achieved in 2009 is the culmination of a trend of gradual growth. In the 1980s, in fact, exports were around 60%, in the 1990s they came close to 80%, and then they increased further.”
But the ability to export with profit and competence is not the sector’s only strong point. "I think our greatest strength,” Lesce continues, “is the courage to invest and the ability to innovate. I always say that we are ‘condemned’ to innovate. We must always be able to offer more and better, at 360 degrees. It is no coincidence that investments in research and development in our sector have grown despite the crisis.” The world of packing and packaging machines, notes the president of Ucima, is marked by a series of “diversified activities, because our associated companies, though they operate under the title of packing and packaging, work in different sectors, from medicine to cosmetics, from food to beverages. In Italy and in particular, but not only, in Emilia Romagna there is a wide area developing automatic machines. Mechanics, and especially precision engineering, have very deep roots here. Over the years we have also diversified, creating packaging and packaging systems that operate across the board, from cardboard to flexible solutions, to plastics, from the bottle to the pharmaceutical container.”
Lesce is positive about the prospects for the immediate future, and stresses some encouraging signs; for example, "between January and August compared with the first eight months of 2009, orders were up 26%, and even turnover began to grow again, starting in the second quarter of 2010. But what is important for us,” he concludes, “is to continue to guard carefully the markets that will give us more and I hope that in this sense, within Ucima, members are able to develop synergies and partnerships.”