ROME – The performance of the rubber sector was at the center of a recent survey carried out by Assogomma, a historic association serving rubber companies, as well as one of the eight co-founders of Confindustria in 1910. The research was carried out among the associated companies at Assogomma with a representative sample of the rubber industry and in particular of the technical articles which also include tyres.
The survey analyzed the turnover for the first nine months of 2023 which, compared to the previous year, proved to be decreasing for approximately half of the sample of interviewees (49%), of which over half (53%) declared a decrease double digits. The decrease is generalized for all final destinations of the product with household appliances as the most affected sector, followed by construction, footwear, sports and oil & gas. The automotive sector, despite the growth in registrations, recorded contractions in more than 40% of cases, while stability prevails in niche sectors such as “military applications” and “aerospace”.
This generalized contraction led as a consequence to a clear shortening of the order portfolio compared to a few months ago with 69% of the entire sample with an order load of less than 8 weeks and 43% who declared orders for periods between 2 and 4 weeks. The increases in raw materials, whether natural or synthetic, weigh negatively on company balance sheets and among the materials mainly affected by the increases were Sbr, Nbr, Fkm, EPDM, silicone rubbers, plasticizing oils, carbon black and natural rubbers. According to the survey, the reasons for the cost increases can be attributed to a reduction in production capacity, energy costs and the consequences of ongoing war conflicts, while logistics no longer influences the phenomenon of increases.
It is also interesting to note that there is an ongoing push towards sustainability in the rubber sector, so much so that a third of companies already use recycled raw materials, while of the other two thirds, over half are evaluating their use. The Assogomma survey also highlighted the negative repercussions of the increase in energy bills for electricity and gas which, albeit with exceptions due to the different types of contracts, saw 63% reporting increases.
Finally, the negative economic outlook and the generally growing cost dynamics are reflected in margins and force companies to resort to redundancy payments, with one in four companies having already used it in the first nine months of the year. with production stops of 2 to 13 weeks and another 13% who are evaluating their use by the end of 2023. “We are not asking the Government for support or incentives – underlined Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma – we just want to have the means to be competitive at European level. Without prejudice to all the reasons of health and sustainability, it is not clear why the existing regulations in our country are not modified to encourage the use of recycled substances, such as carbon black recycled from the pyrolysis of end-of-life tyres, which is currently not permitted in Italy but employed in many other EU countries”.