For the third year in a row aluminium foil deliveries from European rollers ended the year by reaching a new record, with an uplift overall of 3% compared to 2017.
This was due largely to sustained demand from overseas markets as well as steady consumption in domestic markets, particularly for thinner gauges, according to figures released by the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA).
Overall deliveries were 942,500 tonnes against just over 915,000 tonnes the year before. Thinner gauge foils, used mainly for flexible packaging and household foils added 4.1%, while thicker gauges, used typically for semi-rigid containers and technical applications, rose by 1.1% annually. Total domestic deliveries were stable in this period, while exports continued the trend seen throughout 2018 with an increase of more than 25% overall.
The last quarter of 2018 continued to show the strong performance seen in the third quarter with a total increase in output of 2.8% to 228,200 tonnes. While domestic deliveries remained stable, exports again lead the way with a remarkable increase of 27% compared to the last three months of 2017. Thinner gauges added 2.2% in this period, while thicker gauges improved by 3.9%.
“Consumption in all markets has improved, although domestic demand is more sluggish than we hoped for. By contrast, exports have powered ahead in the last 12 months,” said Bruno Rea, president of EAFA. “But this is due to exceptional influences on supply and demand overseas. While we remain optimistic about the year ahead, the situation remains volatile and difficult to predict.”
“European foil rollers continue to see more upside influences in the market and maintain a positive outlook. The USA trade actions do have a direct influence on the foil sector, so any changes in that situation will have a bearing on the year ahead. The current debate about circular economy can create opportunities for our sector, given that aluminium is a fully recyclable material,” he 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.