The global print market is shrinking in volume but growing in value over the period 2014-2024. Output measured in billions of A4 prints (or equivalents) was 49,973 in 2014 and forecast to decline very slightly to 49,654 by 2024. In value terms, print output grows from a total of $767.4 billion in 2014 to $862.7 billion in 2024 – a CAGR of 1.18%.
The average value of print per A4 print will increases slightly over the ten-year period, as a result of changes in product mix, and print processes employed. Both analogue and digital print production is becoming more efficient, which contributes to improving unit costs. In addition, increasing capabilities in short-run printing and associated downstream converting processes are leading to improved supply chain efficiencies in which print production is closely matched with demand.
The role of print is changing, with the main dynamic being the impact of the internet and mobile connectivity on the way both businesses and individuals communicate and access information. This affects every segment of the traditional printing business and is changing expectations of what is acceptable in relation to speed, relevance and degree of interactivity of information, irrespective of the medium used.
This trend is most prevalent in digital – inkjet and toner systems – but greater automation is also being seen on the latest generation of analogue presses.
In addition to the dynamics of the end market sectors, improvements in print manufacturing efficiency coupled with increased focus on supply chain management – better demand forecasting matched with just-in-time production – have reduced the amount of wastage in the print market overall.
Analogue versus digital
Analogue printing will grow between 2014-2024, from $664.3 billion in 2014 to $681.7 billion. This growth is mainly attributable to the growth in flexo and gravure printing in packaging applications, and increasing demand in developing economies, primarily in Asia.
Throughout the Smithers forecast period offset litho printing will remain the dominant print technology by value and volume. Its value will drop however, from $355.3 billion in 2014 to $314.5 billion by 2024. Significant reductions in demand for long runs of newspapers, books, magazines, catalogues, brochures, and directories are leading to shrinking demand for heatset and coldset web offset litho printing.
Sheetfed offset litho print will grow modestly from $183.7 billion in 2014 to $192.6 billion in 2024. In stark contrast to offset litho, the digital print sector grows strongly from $103.1 billion in 2014 to $180.9 billion in 2024. Within digital, inkjet printing drives all the forecast growth between 2019-2024, as electrophotography revenues plateau in this period.
The “Other” analogue print sector also grows. This sector covers a range of print processes including dry offset, intaglio used in tubs and tins for packaging, thermal transfer, used in labels and tags, etc.