Guide to European packaging will keep converters up to date

Pira's done it again! Long the leader in international converting/packaging publications, PIRA International's recently published two-volume "European Packaging Directory 1995/96" is a masterpiece of information. It covers 19 European nations, including, for the first time, central European countries, in a comprehensive, literate, orderly, and informative way. It should be an integral part of every converter's library.

Each volume can be purchased separately for about $725. Volume I provides a profile of the leading nations in Europe and contrasts their differences. The text notes that the packaging industry is a major industrial sector in Europe with a production value of approximately $100 billion. Following difficult years when the economic recession was at its worst, 1993 proved to be the turning point for the packaging industry, while 1994 and 1995 have seen structural realignment and expansion in the face of significant raw material price increases.

Referring to the plastics market, Volume I states that, "in terms of total output, Germany and Italy are the leading producers, but a more complex picture emerges in terms of output per head: Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden are the leading countries in that category. Total production of plastics packaging was valued at $31.4 billion in 1994."

Volume I contains national profiles for all the countries covered, from Austria to the U.K. Here's what it says about Poland-a nation from which it is extremely difficult to obtain statistics: "Poland is die most important packaging market in central Europe and probably the second most significant one in the former Soviet Bloc, after Russia. More than 1,000 Polish firms are active in the packaging field, of which 30% are in paper and board packaging, 57% in plastics packaging, 5% in glass packaging, and 8% in metal packaging. Polish packaging consumption per capita is well below the west European average but has good growth potential. The government estimates that investment in die packaging industry will be in excess of $170 million by 2000, with the plastics industry topping the list!"

There is a complete lack of detailed information as to the Polish flex-pack industry other than noting it is "undeveloped"; however, other areas are covered in great detail.

The national profile on Germany covers about 20 pages and is full of detailed information. Discussed are such flex-pack classics as Bischof and Klein Gembel (a privately owned flex-pack converter). Klockner-Werke AG, Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, and others. The text states that "the value of packaging materials, containers, and ancillaries produced in 1994 amounted to $26 billion, representing 1.2% of GNP [Gross National Product]; this relationship has fallen steadily in recent years."

Volume II presents a comprehensive analysis of the structure of the European packaging industry from a company perspective and includes an overview of acquisitions and mergers, a ranking of the PIRA Top 100 companies, detailed profiles of these companies, and a reference guide to their products.

PIRA identifies the top ten European packaging companies as:

Carnavel Metalbox; Tetia Leval; Viag; Saint-Grobain; Assi Doman; Pechiney; KNP BT; Jefferson Smurfit; SCA, Alusuisse-Lonza. The firm ranking last on the list (number 100) is Sovay in Belgium.

There is also an excellent list of merger and acquisition activity in the book.

The company profile on Mobil is particularly good. Although an American company, Mobil is number 31 in PIRA's listing. It notes that "in Europe, the company trading under the name of Mobil Plastics Europe provides OPP [oriented polyproplyene) from three sites at Virton in Belgium, Brindisi in Italy, and Kerkrade in the Netherlands. At Virton, PE [polyethylene] stretch film is also produced. A second OPP unit will soon be on-line in Kerkrade, doubling the existing capacity of this new facility."

Also new is a "Product Guide" listing product mixes for these companies. Under flexible packaging, there are 41 firms (more than 40%) involved in some form of flexible packaging.

Volume I and Volume II are priced at each For information contact PIRA International, Randalls Road, Surrey, KT22 7RU, U.K; ph: 44 1372802080; fax: 44 1372802239. A two-volume purchase discount is possible.

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