Print industry posts growth but challenges remain

Print industry posts growth but challenges remain

The print industry is witnessing decent growth rate but facing a host of challenges including rising material costs, paucity of trained people and stiff competition from online media to sustain positive trends in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, a senior industry executive said.

Andy Thomas-Emans, strategic director, Gulf Print and Pack, said the Middle East remains one of the world's key commercial print growth regions and has great potential for the adoption of new technologies.

The Mena market for printing machinery was worth $446.1 million in 2017 and is forecast to reach $545.7 million by 2022. By that time, over 13.46 million tonnes of print materials will be used in the region, he said.

"The main challenges facing the print industry - not only in Mena but worldwide - include commoditisation of print, the growing challenge to print from online media, rising materials, consumables and labour costs, and a shortage of suitably trained operators," said Thomas-Emans.

The Gulf Print and Pack 2019 exhibition will be held from April 15 to 18 at the Dubai World Trade Centre with a large number of exhibitors from around the world taking part in the four-day expo. The exhibitors will showcase their latest technologies.

He noted that the package printing business is the most valuable end-use application for print in the Mena region and will be worth $20 billion in 2019, according to the Smithers-Pira consultancy.

The print industry's growth potential in the Mena region will be largely driven by an overwhelmingly youthful consumer demographic. Some 60 per cent of the Arab population is under 25 years old, and with a median age of 22 years compared to a global average of 28, means that Mena has one of the youngest populations in the world.

According to a recent Smithers-Pira report, this is helping drive the region's print revenue at 8.7 per cent year-on-year against a global growth rate of just one per cent, and will hit a value of $40.7 billion in 2022, up from $32 billion in 2019. The report also confirms that the Mena region's 1,700 printers have a proven investment culture and stay up-to-date with the latest machinery and materials developments.