North American Machine Sales Make Progress in First Quarter


Sales of primary plastics machinery in North America reached almost US$335 million in the first quarter of this year.


This was a 32% rise compared to the same period in 2020, but an 11% dip compared to the final quarter of the year.


“Plastics machinery shipments usually start slow every first quarter, so it was not surprising to see the data came in lower,” said Perc Pineda, chief economist of the Plastics Industry Association.


The rise was in step with overall economic activity, he said.


“With the economy staying in a recovery cycle, plastics machinery shipments can be expected to increase this year,” he added. “However, supply chain issues in plastics end-markets could slow growth in plastics equipment demand.


Q1 sales of single-screw extruders fell by 29% compared to Q1 2020, and by nearly 38% compared to Q4 2020. Sales of twin-screw extruders, however, rose 18% compared to Q1 2020, and by 42% compared to Q4 2020. For comparison, sales of injection moulding equipment rose nearly 40% compared to Q1 2020 but fell by 11% compared to Q4 2020.


Total exports in Q1 2021 rose by 9% to US$395 (compared to Q4 2020).


Imports fell 3.5% to US$845m, resulting in a US$450m trade deficit, which was nearly 13% lower than in Q4 2020.


The organisation also runs a quarterly survey of its members. In the next quarter, almost 90% expect conditions to improve or hold steady compared to a year ago. This is lower than the 96% who felt this way in the previous quarter.



For the next 12 months, 93% expect market conditions to be steady-to-better– higher than the 90% who voted this way in the Q4 2020 survey.



“The equipment sector of the plastics industry came out of 2020 strongly,” said Pineda. “The improved trade outlook will be a positive for plastics equipment suppliers, on top of what can be expected as another good year for plastics equipment demand.”


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