The findings of the ADIA Australian Dental Industry Business Conditions Survey reflected a relatively stable environment, albeit with a reported decline in sales volumes accompanied by an associated decrease in selling prices owing to competition in a tough market.
This survey is published by the Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA), the peak business organisation representing manufacturers and suppliers of quality dental products.
"The ADIA Australian Dental Industry Business Conditions Survey profiles the current and expected conditions experienced by businesses of all sizes in the dental industry. The results for this quarter confirm the flattening in the demand for dental products experienced by our member businesses", said Troy Williams, ADIA Chief Executive Officer.
In the survey, the index for sales volumes for the period October 2013 to December 2013 (inclusive) was 46.4. This indicates stable (albeit marginally negative) sales volumes compared to the preceding quarter. Reasons stated by business reporting a decline in volumes reflected two main themes - these being a drop in demand for dental services, and uncertainty arising from the lead-up to the November 2013 federal election and subsequent change of government.
The selling price index of 47.4 in the same period indicates stable (albeit marginally negative) selling prices compared to the preceding quarter. Businesses reporting an increase referenced the decline of the Australian dollar compared to other currencies (affecting imports) but this appears to have been moderated by businesses which stated prices have been restrained as a result of competition in a tough market.
The input costs (e.g. wholesale product purchase / manufacturing costs) index for the October 2013 quarter was 72.6, indicating a moderate to high upward pressure on the costs compared to the preceding quarter. Three-quarters of businesses reporting an increase referenced the decline of the Australian dollar compared to other currencies (affecting imports).
At 69.0, the administrative costs (e.g. accommodation, electricity, communications, freight, fees and charges) index suggests there was moderate upward pressure on the costs incurred by businesses in the dental industry over the October 2013 quarter compared to the preceding quarter. Respondents reporting an increase referenced rises in electricity prices along with rises in the cost of vehicle operation (fuel) / delivery charges.
With respect to factors influencing past and expected pricing, there were two dominant themes. The first is the fall in the Australian dollar compared to other currencies (resulting in higher costs for imported goods) and the second are expectations of further electricity price rises.
Overall however, businesses across the dental industry were very optimistic about the period covering January-March 2014 (inclusive) with a strong expectation of an increase in sales volumes.
The index for sales volume expectations for the January 2014 quarter was 84.1, suggesting an outlook of strong increase in sales volumes. Respondents with expectations of an increase attributed this to the launch of new product lines and the ADX14 Sydney dental exhibition (Australia's largest dental trade show). Businesses with expectations of a decrease cited the propensity of dental professionals to buy off-shore using the internet.
The selling price expectations index for the period January 2014 to March 2014 (inclusive) is 60.9, indicating moderate to minor increase in the selling price of goods / services sold to dentists and allied oral healthcare providers. Around half of the respondents anticipating a rise referenced the need to match higher input costs arising from the decline of the Australian dollar compared to other currencies (affecting imports).
"The results of this survey highlight the importance of creating an environment that allows business flexibility in structuring its workforce with minimal government interference in day-to-day operations to be able to grow in a tough market, create jobs and operate sustainably in the future," concluded Mr Williams.
The ADIA Australian Dental Industry Business Conditions Survey is Australia's only specialised survey that provides insights into sales, prices, volumes and costs across dental industry. It is an important tool for manufacturers and suppliers of quality dental products to help them better understand current business conditions and future expectations.
About the survey
An index level of 50 indicates that there is an exact balance between those who responded that the variable is growing and those who replied that the variable had declined. Thus, a level below 50 can generally be interpreted as meaning the variable is falling, and conversely, a reading above 50 indicates the variable is increasing.
Businesses were surveyed on the conditions over October-November 2013 to produce the conditions indices, and their expectations for the period January-March 2014 to produce the expectations indices. There are approximately 180 member businesses of ADIA that supply some 95% of the products used by dentists and allied oral healthcare professionals. The survey was completed over 16-31 January 2014 by 31% of the ADIA membership.