IK survey: plastics prices reaching new peak

Plastics prices are reaching a new high, is the conclusion of a flash survey among the members of the German plastic packaging federation IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen at the end of May.

The price hikes in the wake of the continued shortage of many standard commodity plastics showed how extremely tense the situation in the industry was and put manufacturers of plastic packaging under persistent pressure. The price of standard thermoplastics has risen by more than 70% since the beginning of the year, according to respondents. "In addition, transport and logistics costs have risen sharply," IK states.

On the raw materials side, there were signs of a slow easing. While a month ago about 80% of the survey participants spoke of a poor to very poor supply situation, the current figure is 67%. Due to the bottlenecks, eight out of ten plastic packaging manufacturers have had to throttle their production, every fifth producer even to a considerable or very significant extent.

According to the IK data, the highest price increases up to the end of May were recorded for LLDPE and LDPE with +75% and +74% respectively, followed by PP, HDPE, PE, PA, PS, PVC and EPS, which were each between +67% and +71%. "In some cases, the mark-ups are significantly above these average values," writes the association. The quotations for many standard commodity plastics have reportedly largely decoupled themselves from the price movements of the petrochemical upstream products.

Not only virgin plastics are affected by considerable additional costs, but also recycled plastics. Since the beginning of the year, recycled PP, LDPE and PS have become more than 50% more expensive, and in the case of rPET the average increase is 43%. 

"The situation is further aggravated by the persistently high number of force majeure cases declared by plastics manufacturers," explains IK CEO Dr Martin Engelmann. Two out of three packaging manufacturers are still affected by one or more plant failures of their suppliers. Compared to the previous month, this number is even said to have risen at the end of May. In this regard, the IK demands more transparency in cases of "force majeure". "Only if the suppliers describe the reasons for the system failure in a comprehensible and detailed manner can they expect understanding on the part of the customer," says Engelmann.

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