Third-quarter (Q3) primary plastics machinery shipments fell 1.5 percent from the previous quarter to a value of $345.8 million, according to initial estimates in a report from the Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) released by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). This represents a 2.3 percent decrease in the value of shipments compared to the same period last year.
“At the start of this year, there was a double-digit decline in primary plastics machinery shipments,” Perc Pineda, chief economist for PLASTICS, wrote in the report. “Following a 1.5 percent gain in shipments during the second quarter, there was a reversal, resulting in a 1.5 percent loss in the third quarter. The decline in shipments seems to have moderated on both a quarterly and year-over-year basis, aligning with the rising economic output from the first to the third quarter of this year."
Overall, in Q3 2023, U.S. exports of plastics equipment surged by 7.2 percent from the previous quarter, marking a substantial 36.3 percent increase from a year earlier, totaling $270.9 million. More than half of these exports (55.4 percent) were directed to Mexico and Canada, totaling $150.1 million. Meanwhile, imports saw a decrease of 16.5 percent from the previous quarter and 9.5 percent from a year earlier, resulting in a total of $383 million. This shift led to a significant 45.5 percent decrease in the plastics equipment trade deficit, which reached $112.1 million.
When broken down by primary plastics machinery types, sales of single-screw extruders surged, posting increases of 30.5 percent quarter over quarter and 75.3 percent year over year. Twin-screw extruders also saw a robust 30.3 percent quarter-over-quarter increase, but a more modest 2.9 percent year over year. Shipments of injection molding machines dropped 3 percent decrease from one quarter to the next and 8 percent year over year, marking the third consecutive quarter of decline.
In CES‘ most recent quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers, there was a rise in participants anticipating improved market conditions over the next 12 months compared to the previous year. The percentage of those expecting conditions to either remain the same or improve rose to 56.1 percent.
The report from CES said that in the foreseeable future, the trajectory of plastics machinery will continue to be influenced by high interest rates, especially the inversion of interest rates.