Germany’s plastics packaging industry saw sales decline by around 10% in 2009 to €12.5 bln, according to a report by industry association Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (IK), as reported in European plastic news. According to the association, production volumes declined by around 8% on 2008 to 3.8 mln tons for last year. Industrial packaging was the hardest hit, with consumer oriented packaging markets seeing stable or slightly positive growth. Sales to the domestic market held up better than exports. However, the last two months of the year saw a clear increase in turnover. This, together with confirmation of a positive trend in its 2010 first quarter trend monitor, gives “reason for optimism” for 2010. However materials price instability will create a hurdle in this path. Volatility in materials price markets has been worsened by Europe’s move to becoming a net polyethylene importer, as the resulting dependency on international market developments, especially in the Far East, is causing fluctuations that are hard to predict and pricing that is hard to trace.