Full year results for the European aluminium foil sector, released by EAFA, the European Aluminium Foil Association, show a stable, but largely flat market in the past twelve months, while the outlook for 2014 is viewed optimistically, with a general recovery in demand expected to gather pace both in Europe and overseas.
Final output figures for the year were 842,700 tonnes, 0.3% ahead of 2012 (840,600t). Q4 results showed production declined by 3.3% to 199,800 tonnes compared with 2012 (206,700t).
Deliveries of thinner gauges, used largely for flexible packaging and household foils, remained positive throughout 2013, although the strong growth figures seen in the first half of the year did not carry on into the second. The decline in demand for thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, continued into Q4, largely caused by ongoing uncertainty in construction and technical markets and depressed demand from overseas.
Exports, after a bright start to the year, tailed off, falling by 0.3% YOY as economic uncertainty in some markets delayed investment plans. However thinner gauges increased deliveries by 1.1% compared with 2012, while thicker gauges recorded a downturn of 1.1%.
Manfred Mertens, EAFA Vice-President and Roller Group Chairman commented, “After such a strong start to 2013 it was a little disappointing that the trend did not continue through the rest of the year. But the slower than expected economic recovery in Southern Europe and some of our key export markets held back demand, particularly for thicker gauges.”
“We see clear signs that the activity in 2014 is improving in all areas for both thin and thicker gauges. So we continue to be cautiously optimistic that markets are recovering all the time. It should not be forgotten either that thinner gauge deliveries increased throughout 2013, despite the challenging market conditions,” Mertens added.
Aluminium foil characteristics are strength, formability and barrier properties which have made it an essential part of many flexible packaging and container applications. Other uses of aluminium foil include automotive and heat exchange components, insulation material and many industrial applications.