Glass industry: revenue decline in 2020

Federal Statistics Office data has revealed that the glass industry closed out 2020 with a 4.6 percent decline in revenue. Despite ending the year on this negative note, the companies in the various glass segments are maintaining cautiously optimistic business outlooks.

Total glass industry revenue in Germany declined year-over-year by 4.6 percent to around EUR 9.35 billion in 2020 (2019: EUR 9.81 billion). Both domestic and foreign revenue shrank by 4.0 and 5.5 percent respectively.

Segment results

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the operating results of the majority of glass segments negatively in 2020, particularly tableware glass manufacturers, and this segment reported a 37.8 percent decline in revenue to EUR 381 million (2019: EUR 612 million). It was hit hard by pandemic-related temporary closures in the hotel and hospitality sectors, which depressed sales of tableware such as drinking glasses.

The flat glass manufacturing segment closed out 2020 with revenue down 9.6 percent to EUR 935 million (2019: EUR 1.03 billion). As key automotive suppliers, the flat glass manufacturers were severely affected by the car production stoppages. Revenue in the flat glass finishing segment declined year-over-year by 3.1 percent to EUR 3.66 billion (2019: EUR 3.78 billion).

Glass fibre and special glass manufacturers experienced moderate losses. Revenue in the glass fibre segment fell by 0.9 percent to EUR 983 million (2019: EUR 991 million). and there was a 0.4 percent decline in revenue in the special glass industry, taking its total annual revenue down to EUR 1.35 billion (2019: EUR 1.36 billion).

In contrast, the container glass industry’s result remained more or less at the previous year’s level, with 0.4 percent revenue growth to EUR 2.05 billion (2019: EUR 2.04 billion). This segment benefitted to some extent from the shift of food and beverage consumption to the home, which compensated for the loss of revenue due to the temporary closure of restaurant and catering establishments. Pharmaceutical glass manufacturers ramped up production to manufacture millions of glass vials for the COVID-19 vaccines, thereby making an important contribution to stemming the pandemic.

BV Glas President Dr Frank Heinricht commented: “The glass industry unfortunately experienced a decline in revenue during 2020. However, we have to view that result in the context of two lockdowns with severe impacts on some of the glass industry’s key markets. The packaging segment was an exception, and glass retained its positive positioning here. In light of the progress being made with the vaccination roll-out and expectations that the pandemic situation will ease in the summer, the glass industry’s business outlook for 2021 is cautiously optimistic.”


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