The value of the European plastics injection moulding industry slumped to €42.6 bln in 2009, losing 23% of its value from €55 bln in 2008, according to a report from AMI. Until 2008, the sector was growing by around 2% pa in terms of polymer volume but the last quarter of that year saw a sharp contraction in the market, which wiped out nearly five years of growth in the space of a few months. The European market has also shifted from west to east. Between 2005 and 2008, polymer demand among central and eastern European moulders grew on average by 7% pa while in Western Europe, polymer consumption by moulders shrank at a rate of 1% pa. More than 12% of injection moulding sites in Western Europe closed. Germany was the only western European country to sustain growth, while the UK was the weakest market of the entire region. AMI predicts the industry will return to growth this year, forecasting an expansion in polymer demand of 3-4%, driven mainly by developments in packaging applications and specialised areas sectors such as medical. However, the number of companies within this sector will decline as the market will remain competitive because of rising raw material, energy and labour costs.