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Australian Imports of print up and down

Australia’s imports of printed material, despite a slight 1.7% decline, were worth almost $1 billion last year, according to industry analyst, Industry Edge. Printed material imports were valued at $968.6 million in 2018. Unit volumes were down, but average prices increased over the year for many of the products in this varied import grouping, Industry Edge said in its March edition of ‘Pulp & Paper Edge’. Source: Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz

Other highlights of the report were:

  • The ‘Other printed matter’ class continued to grow, depriving local printers of work.
  • Printed book imports slipped 1.7% to $470 million.

Industry Edge said the import value of products as diverse as books, calendars and stamps had hovered around the $1 billion mark for much of the last decade.

“The rise and fall in their value has had something to do with exchange rates of course. Just as important, declining volumes, based on falling print readership, appear to have balanced out price increases over the period,” Industry Edge said

The value of imported printed material had always been dominated by Printed Books. Still worth $470 million in 2018, they accounted for 48% of total imports. Similarly, the value of imported Newspapers fell 3.2% over the year to $164.6 million.

Children’s Books grew dramatically in popularity, with imports valued at $37 million, a rise of 37.5%. Other stand-outs were Calendars, where imports grew by 11.9% to $25 million, and Stamps & Bank Notes, up dramatically by 439% to $9.1 million. “Given the latter are collectibles that increase in value, they could theoretically be a wealthy person buying a serious stamp collection,” said Industry Edge.

While Books and Newspapers dominated imports, other smaller contributors were Music Manuscripts ($3.2 million), Maps ($5.5 million), Transfers ($8.3 million), and Plans and Drawings ($700,000).

Industry Edge said the ‘Other printed matter’ group – “a catch-all designation” – was very important. It includes commercially printed material that covers everything from business cards to commercial brochures and reports.

“At one level, domestic printers may view 2018 as a good year; the value of these printed imports fell 11.0% to $197 million,” the industry analyst said.

“The less attractive alternative is that import values declined for this material because there was simply less work. Both are feasible options.”