Global Print Industry Forecast To reach $834.3 billion in 2026
15 November 2021: Commercial, graphics, publications, packaging and label printing all face fundamental challenges in adjusting to the market space in the wake of Covid. The positive news – as outlined in the new Smithers report, The Future of Global Print to 2026 is that after a highly disruptive 2020, markets have recovered across 2021; although this is not uniform across all segments.
Total value of global printing will reach $760.6 billion in 2021, with the equivalent of 41.9 trillion A4 prints produced worldwide. This is up from $750.0 billion in 2020, but volumes have declined further, down 5.87 trillion A4 prints from 2019. The effect has been most pronounced in publications, and some graphics and commercial applications. Lockdown (stay-at-home) orders led to a sharp drop in magazine and newspaper sales, only partially compensated for by a short-term increase in orders for educational and leisure books; and much of regular commercial print and graphics work was cancelled.
As a degree of stability returns to end-use markets investment in new print and finishing equipment will be $15.9 billion this year. Smithers anticipates that new demand in packaging and labels and in Asian growth economies will fuel a moderate increase through to 2026 – at a compound annual growth rate of (1.9% by value, at constant prices). In 2026 total value is forecast to hit $834.3 billion. Volume growth will be slower at a 0.7% CAGR, rising to 43.4 trillion A4 print equivalents in 2026, but the majority of volume lost across 2019-2020 will not be recovered.
In a post-Covid world less global, more local print supply chains will be more popular. Print buyers will place less reliance on single providers and just-in-time delivery models – instead there be more demand for agile print services that can react quickly to shifts in market conditions.
Demand for printed e-commerce packaging will continue, with brands keen to offer improvements in experience and engagement. Higher quality digital printing will be used to capitalise on improved messaging on packs, promoting other products and adding a potential revenue source for print service providers. This aligns with the broader industry trend for lower volume printing that is more relevant to the consumer, as physical media is increasingly targeted to specific segments or even individuals.