Kodak Announces Price Increase for Offset Printing Plates
Kodak today announced global,
By Cary Sherburne
Published: March 1, 2011
Kodak today announced global, across-the-board price increases for printing plates, the first of the “Big 3” to step up to the plate and address the climbing costs of the materials that go into manufacturing printing plates. The increase for digital plates will range from 5% to 10%, while increases for conventional plates are significantly higher at 15% to 20%. Increases are set to take effect May 1, 2011.
Kevin Cazabon, Director of Current Solutions for Commercial and Publishing, and Marketing Director for Offset Consumables, said in a conversation with WhatTheyThink, “In the past, price increases focused on the cost of aluminum. But if you look across the board at all of the materials that go into printing plates, almost everything has gone up. It is a perfect storm on the pricing front. Over the last couple of years with the recession, there has been a lot of pressure on prices for every product and every industry, and during the recession that same pricing pressure was put on raw materials. Now coming out of the recession, pricing pressures are still here but prices of raw materials have gone up significantly. We understand this has an impact on our customers, and it is something they will have to find a way to pass along to their customers.”
Cazabon points out that this is not a new situation for printers, who have been facing pricing increases for just about everything, including ink, paper and energy. “For most printers,” he said, “plates represent less than 2% of turnover, while ink and paper can represent as much as 40% to 45%. Our focus has been on delivering products that enhance efficiency and quality. If it takes a minute longer to come up to color on the press, that can wipe out any cost savings from bargain basement plates, and for most printers, it can be hard to track those costs.”
When asked why the difference in increase between digital and conventional, he reports that is due to scale, saying, “Conventional is a very small part of our portfolio today, and we don't have the scale we used to. The cost to manufacture these plates is much higher than it was in the past.”
For many Kodak customers still using film-based platemaking processes, these increases may be the factor that finally pushes them to move to CTP, which is something they probably should have already done anyway.
In a recent column, Dr. Joe Webb, WhatTheyThink's Director of Economics & Research, said, “Print demand is in a secular decline because of electronic media, and that secular change is still very much in effect. You don't see Apple or Google acting cautious. We can't either. Waiting for things to get better will only delay the systematic restructuring that most print businesses will need as these changes continue their course...For these reasons, print businesses must be prepared to adapt to this marketplace with new services and to be certain that their equipment reflects today's market conditions as well as where the market is headed.”
Sage advice, as printers continue to be faced with inflation in their input costs.
We suspect that Kodak will not be alone in raising the price of printing plates, as all of the manufacturers face the same challenge of rising cost of materials. Regardless of which supplier a printer is using for plates, now is a good time to take advantage of the professional services most, if not all, of these suppliers offer to conduct a thorough audit of operations. As Cazabon indicates, “To be competitive and to save even 1% or 2% in costs can be the difference between being in the red and in the black; it is what printers need to do these days.”