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In 2017, sales in the Brazilian composites sector totaled US$720 million, 1.9% higher than the previous year, according to Maxiquim, a consulting firm hired by the Latin American Composite Materials Association (ALMACO).
This is the first positive result since 2014, when the Brazilian economic crisis began, ALMACO reports. The consumption of raw materials increased 23.2%, amounting to 196,000 tons, while the number of jobs fell 0.9%, totaling 59,000 jobs.
“The transportation market was crucial for us to achieve this performance, especially due to the high demand for agricultural vehicles, such as tractors and harvesters,” says Gilmar Lima, President of ALMACO. “It is worth noting that poles for power grids also contributed, hence considering the infrastructure sector.”
The differences between the sales and raw material volume indicators are basically due to the price fluctuations registered in the period, the association says. For 2018, Maxiquim’s forecast is that sales should reach $790 million, 9.4% higher than in 2017, while the consumption of raw materials should grow 4.8%, corresponding to 205,000 tons.
“Transportation, agribusiness and infrastructure will continue to grow,” notes Lima. “In parallel, segments that faced many difficulties over the past two years, such as the construction, wind and gas, should report a recovery. And new niches will continue to emerge, albeit slowly, supported by the flexibility and lightness typical of composites.”
Despite the results reported in 2017 and the optimistic forecasts for this year, Lima does not yet consider that the negative phase that has been faced by the composites sector since 2014 has fully ended.
“We have lost a lot in the past three years,” he states. “In terms of volume, in 2016 we repeated the results of 2006.”
For this reason, he says that the companies that integrate the production chain of the material turned their efforts solely to their survival, leaving creativity, knowledge and the maintenance of talents aside.
“Now we need to stay alert, rethink our organisations and seek financial and strategic alliances to help us invest in education, innovation and communication,” he says.
According to Lima, ALMACO’s role in this recovery should be that of stimulating and taking companies out of their comfort zone, helping to strengthen not only the manufacturers of raw materials, distributors and processors, but also composite users, the community in general and government entities.
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