The import market for packaging equipment was estimated at US$ 112.5 million in 2010. Imports traditionally account for almost 70-80 percent of the market. However, local production has been growing rapidly. As the Argentine economy continues to grow, U.S. companies that offer good quality at competitive prices may find significant opportunities in the Argentine market.
The overall Argentine packaging business in Argentina is comprised of about 10,000 companies which, as a reference, had a total production of US$ 9.8 billion of packaging, (or 1.5 million tons) in 2006, representing approximately 1.5 percent of the Argentine GDP. The local packaging manufacturing industry has been experiencing increased volume levels and quickly turned its attention to export markets as the devaluation of the peso led to a more competitive position abroad for domestic producers.
Packaging equipment imports dominate the highest complexity technology market. These imports are mainly from Europe and the U.S. However, there is a growing local production market. Local companies also import parts and assemble equipment locally.
After a significant drop in 2009, imports started to pick up in 2010 reaching US$112.5 million and regaining previous import levels. Food exporting companies continued to invest in equipment to create new types of packaging and improve and increase production. This growth has been powered by strong commodity prices and increased exports of food companies. However, since food commodities international price is at its historical record, there may be quotas and further restrictions for exports of grains, beef, milk and other products to guarantee food product availability for the Argentine local market. Nonetheless, imports of equipment are expected to continue growing at moderate rates during 2011 and beyond.
The data contained in this report covers a wide range of packaging equipment from nail or screw batching and filling and sealing machines to vertical liquid food packaging machines. Thus, indirectly, various industrial sectors are mentioned. However, no ancillary equipment related to packaging such as printing, labeling or plastic molding are considered in the statistics for this report.
Italy has traditionally been the market leader, and accounted for a 36% of the import market in 2010, having exported US$40.5 million of packaging equipment to Argentina. Germany ranked second with 25.4% of the import market, followed by imports from Brazil (6.3%) and Spain (6.2%).
Imports from the U.S. ranked fifth and accounted for 4 % of the import market in 2010, the lowest percentage in the past four years. However, imports from the U.S. are expected to rebound and recover import levels of previous years. Although the following are only partial figures, in the first quarter of 2011, imports from the US already amounted to US$ 1.8 million (an 8 percent market share), similar to imports from Spain.
The food, beverage and industrial packaging markets present the largest opportunities for equipment exporters. Equipment that cannot be produced locally continue to be a best prospect sector for U.S. exporters. In any case, product potential should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Niche opportunities for U.S. exports may be:
• Vacuum filling/packing
• Bottles and blister wraps
• Machinery parts (of equipment for filling, capping bottles, jars, tubes, boxes, bags and similar containers and machinery for aerating beverages).
Components and equipment parts offer a strong sales-potential, in large part because the market conditions require the reconditioning of equipment already in use.