North American manufacturers of packaging machines and parts took a $377 million sales hit last year, dragging down global equipment sales 0.8 percent, while Chinese packaging firms solidified their No. 5 ranking with a 15.1 percent sales spike of $272 million.

U.S. and Canadian suppliers still command 29 percent of worldwide sales, according to research by the Confederation of Packaging Machinery Associations, a global consortium of 13 packaging trade associations.

But a strong U.S. dollar and fall’s deepening economic recession eroded North America’s market share almost two full points, with China picking up most of it. Other big gainers were the U.K. and Germany, with respective sales gains of $166 million and $172 million.

Japanese manufacturers suffered the deepest relative sales hit. Sales of Japanese parts and equipment plummeted $363 million in 2001, down 9.5 percent from 2000. Japan maintained the No. 2 world ranking, though its lead over Germany narrowed to less than a point.

Top Packaging Equipment Regions

Global share
1. North America 29.1%
2. Japan 17.3%
3. Germany 16.7%
4. Italy 12.1%
5. China 10.4%
6. France 3.5%
7. United Kingdom 3.5%
8. Spain 3.1%
9. Switzerland 2.5%
10. The Netherlands 1.1%

Total market: $19.863 billion

Source: Confederation of Packaging Machinery Associations.