The long-term increase in printing production volumes has provided export potential for the sector, which is what the sector’s further development depends on. That development is strongly dependent on the economic situation in global export markets, as the domestic market is developing relatively slowly.
Latvia joining the EU in May 2004 encouraged and simplified foreign trade and communications. Exports from the Latvian printing industry have increased, and this trend is still continuing. After the global economic crisis, pre-crisis export levels were regained and even exceeded by 2010, bringing positive signals to the sector.
In 2018, export volumes reached 76 % of the sector’s total output. Currently, the proportion of exports is continuing to grow. The key factors influencing the sector’s competitiveness in foreign markets are high quality, short delivery times and cost effectiveness.
Today, the largest export markets are Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Russia, Finland and Poland. The main export products, such as books and magazines, go to Western Europe and Scandinavia, while labels and packaging tend to be for eastern markets. Latvian printing and packaging companies are strong competitors in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, with high-quality packaging and labels. Prestige and printed materials with added value include art books, illustrated magazines, guidebooks, and packaging for foods, perfumery and medicines. Latvia ranks second in Europe in the export share of books, with export value being 80 %.
The packaging industry in Latvia has witnessed rapid development over the last 20 years. Latvian companies manufacture various types of packaging – plastic jars and containers, blister packs, labels, cardboard boxes, laminated bags and sacks, egg cartons, paper bags, PET bottles, polymer boxes, and tubes.
Great attention is paid to packaging from ecological materials, and there is a growing demand for exclusive, personalized packages for advertising purposes. Latvian companies can provide a wide range of technological facilities, manual work and unique design.
The most commonly used type of packaging in Latvia is glass, followed by polymers, paper and cardboard. Of packaging that is recycled, the most commonly recycled materials in Latvia are metal, glass, paper, and cardboard, while energy recovery mainly uses materials such as paper, cardboard and wood.
The principal packaging materials exported are products from wood, with manufacturing volumes of EUR 109 million or 47 % of total packaging exports. More than 160 companies manufacture wood packaging.