The inflation affects the market trend, but the product and process innovation, driven by digitalization, confirms the post-pandemic recovery boost, essentially due to the replacement of obsolete appliances. This, in brief, the scenario emerged from EFCEM Italia data that describes the conditions of the professional appliance sector, starting from catering. According to the association joined by the manufacturers of catering and hospitality equipment, the primary short business trend indicators of the last period have highlighted a 2022-turnover growth by about 10 percentage points in value versus 2021, year of full post-pandemic recovery, and exceeding by 17% 2019 (pre-pandemic year), for a value estimated in almost 6 billion Euros. The turnover of the first 2023-quarter has confirmed growth dynamics (+4.5% compared to the same date in 2022), although in presence of a shrinkage of the order flow that registers a trend decrease by 2%, especially owing to the worsening of the domestic market (-5.5%). After the rises in recent years, in the first 2023-quarter the prices of sector raw materials are decreasing: -10% (versus the first 2022-quarter) for energy and -3.3% stainless steel, in slight countertendency electronic components (+3.8%). Concerning instead the sale price lists of the sector, the first 2023-quarter highlights slight upswings (+3.5%) compared to the first 2022-quarter, reaching levels that exceed 2021 in the order of +20%.
In the second 2023-quarter, the trend indicates a substantial stability of turnovers thanks to the higher availability of raw materials and components, a recovery of the touristic market and a good stability of foreign markets. Even if a widespread uncertainty remains because of the Russian-Ukraine crisis, summed to a depressive effect of the inflation on consumptions in a weak market with an overstock not disposed since last year, industry – EFCEM Italia underlines – has succeeded in finding a notable stability and a new will of investing in innovative and sustainable products. In general, a pre-estimate of closure of the first 2023-semester suggests a tendential growth of turnovers ranging from 5 to 10% in the values in Euros. However, an analysis of deflated data points out the first signs of a possible shrinkage of the domestic market, evident as far as the order flow of the first quarter is concerned. The positive phase for export continues, confirming the recovery of pre-pandemic levels of the international markets of professional appliances. In 2022, according to EFCEM, sector exports reached the new maximum peak of 5.2 billion Euros, with an increment that exceeds 23% compared to 2019 (+6.8% versus 2021); the double-digit growth emerges also in the first quarter of the current year. The refrigeration drives the positive results (+33.2% versus 2019 and +2.5% versus 2021), followed by cooking and heating (+16.7% and +11.6%) and by the dish washing (+4.7% and +14.1%). Slower recovery for the fabric washing and treatment, which register -8.8% versus 2019 and +4.2% compared to 2021. The evolution of the society and of consumptions is another element that can bring important growth boosts for the whole sector, also in the light of a noteworthy inflation process that reduces consumers’ purchasing power. As the president of EFCEM Italia Andrea Rossi underlines, “This scenario has speeded up the fragmentation and specialization processes of catering, implying a significant change in different Countries’ product and service offers. Moreover, the demand is progressively shifting from generic to specialized product, conceived to give the optimal answer to a precise catering function and format. A challenge to change to which sector companies have succeeded in reacting with extreme speed, assuring efficacious and profitable answers for the whole chain”.