A strong performance from European aluminum foil rollers in the last half of 2016 helped lift deliveries above pre-economic crisis levels for the first time in a decade, according to figures released by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA).
Domestic deliveries showed a marked improvement, up 1.5 percent, compared with a year earlier, while exports performed better than expected. While the third quarter saw flat demand, the fourth quarter of 2016 returned to solid growth, enabling overall production to reach 874,480 tonnes, an increase of 1.5 percent on the previous 12 months. This is an all-time high, as the last time it approached this level was more than 10 years earlier when production hit 865,870 tonnes in 2006.
Thinner gauges, used mainly for flexible packaging and household foils, ended the full year 0.5 percent higher, thanks to a very strong result up four percent in European markets in the fourth quarter. Thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, have been performing better for most of the year and ended 3.4 percent ahead, returning to a 1.4 percent increase in the final three months, after a dip the previous quarter.
Exports were less impacted by overseas competition, recording an increase of 1.3 percent compared to 2015. Although the final quarter saw a decline, EAFA explained that it was not enough to push deliveries into negative territory following strong growth earlier in the year.
EAFA executive director Guido Aufdemkamp said he was pleased with the figures but warned that it was too early to say the upward trend was established.
‘To have exceeded the previous all-time high is very encouraging. But we have seen volatile swings in demand patterns quarter on quarter for both thinner and thicker gauges through the last years. While the overall performance is very robust we will remain alert to continuing changes in market circumstances,’ he said.
EAFA is an international body representing companies engaged in the rolling and rewinding of aluminium foil and in the manufacture of aluminum closures, alufoil semi-rigid containers and of all kinds of flexible packaging. Its more than 100 members include companies in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.