Sector Friday - Print before reading

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Back to our snapshots of individual manufacturing sectors - this week it's paper, printing and publishing.

Perhaps not a sector that receives a high amount of attention, but one that makes products that everyone will use on a daily basis - your newspaper, tissues, journals/celebrity gossip mags, printed advertising material, envelopes and wallpaper! And it accounts for a reasonable share of total manufacturing output - just over 7%.

Here's how it breaks down:

% share of GVASource: National Statistics

Facts and stats

  • Most output from the sector goes back into industry as intermediate consumption. Exports are a small part of final demand (7%) with the bulk of remaining output consumed by households.
  • Exports were evenly split between EU and non-EU markets in 2012. Germany, France and the Netherlands and the main individual export markets for the sector.
  • Asia, North America and Germany are the main source of imports. The UK runs a trade deficit with both EU and non-EU markets in this sector.
  • The industry is R&D-lite, investing around £20m in R&D or less than 0.5% of the manufacturing total.
  • Activity is concentrated in the East Midlands, with paper manufacture also significant in Wales and printing activity also prevalent in the East of England.

Challenging times for paper and printing

The paper and publishing sectors have been declining over the past decade. The paper & board sector is subject to cheaper competition and shorter forestry growing cycles for pulp in S America and Asia. Demand for printed material has been suffering as consumers use online media.

Future trends - challenges continue, but opportunities too

  • Demand for consumer packaging and printed material (eg newspapers) will be strongest in emerging markets. The export opportunities for UK companies in these markets are likely to be limited.
  • European markets in both paper and printing are mature; growth is likely to be found in sectors such as food packaging.
  • The sector will continue to face competition from digital media, but we will see more technology deployed for smaller batches of printed material.
  • Recycling growth has slowed, but this is likely a consequence of efforts to minimise packaging. The use of recycled material will continue to grow.

Author

Chief Economist

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