Packaging market continues to be an important sector. Photo: Messe Düsseldorf

Packaging market continues to be an important sector. Photo: Messe Düsseldorf

Packaging market continues to grow

Social change requires rethinking

International market research studies are prophesying rising sales in the global packaging industry right up until 2020. However, experts also believe that this industry is facing a transformation. They say that new demographic conditions, new customer demands, growing purchasing powers on emerging markets and an increasing use of technical facilities are causing many to rethink the use of packaging materials and manufacturing processes.
Since 2015 China has been regarded as the biggest national market for paper packaging. With nearly 25 per cent of global consumption, it has relegated the United States to second position. Photo: VDP

Since 2015 China has been regarded as the biggest national market for paper packaging. With nearly 25 per cent of global consumption, it has relegated the United States to second position. Photo: VDP

Outlook until 2020

According to official figures published by the Joint Committee of German Packaging Manufacturers (GADV), the German packaging market remained virtually unchanged between 2014 and 2015, yet over the next few years Germany can expect to see a boom in this industry, caused by innovative packaging methods. Especially when looking at this sector on a global scale, it is thought to be inevitable that the industry will face a radical transformation – changes that will also lead to growth.
The demand for aluminium is likely to grow, with an increasing use of aerosol cans, in particular – in personal care, in households and also in the automotive industry. Photo: Henkel

The demand for aluminium is likely to grow, with an increasing use of aerosol cans, in particular – in personal care, in households and also in the automotive industry. Photo: Henkel

Customer demands and packaging solutions

Many forecasts mention certain elements in one breath: convenience, sustainability, flexibility, efficiency, counterfeit protection and traceability, while associating all these parameters with low costs. After all, they say, these are the demands of today’s consumers – demands that need to be met. Moreover, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is increasingly gaining ground in the everyday lives of the global population. Intelligent and modular software systems of our digitally networked Industry 4.0 are, among other things, ensuring transparency, safety and reproducibility for automated production processes. And of course multi-layer packaging, made from different combinations of materials, will be gaining in significance throughout the world. The kind of pharmaceutical packaging that will benefit particularly, according to the forecasts, is the type that integrates dosing aids and is therefore geared to the special needs of an ageing population. In particular, packaging experts believes that there is considerable potential for growth in the African nations, the Middle East and Asia. Furthermore, China and India together are apparently likely to reach around 30 per cent of the global protective film market.
Experts are confident that growth will be seen not only in the plastic film market, but also in lids made from polymer compounds, where the increase is estimated to reach an annual 4.9%.

Experts are confident that growth will be seen not only in the plastic film market, but also in lids made from polymer compounds, where the increase is estimated to reach an annual 4.9%. Photo: Mako Plastics ltd.

The market research firm Mintel believes that the global packaging industry is facing six key trends:
  • Digital evolution through digital printing
  • Customer loyalty through transparency
  • Functionality at the POS
  • Sustainability as a brand image
  • Customer-specific packaging sizes
  • Easy access to information through scan codes and dedicated mobile apps
An increase is also expected in the bioplastics market, with annual prospects of over 5%. Photo: The Coca-Cola Company

An increase is also expected in the bioplastics market, with annual prospects of over 5%. Within another three years, for instance, Coca-Cola is planning to use only bottles made from renewable resources. Photo: The Coca-Cola Company

Winners and losers

The report The Future of Global Packaging to 2020 by Smithers Pira concludes that the global packaging industry will grow by an annual average of 3.5 per cent within the next four years. Such a boom will primarily affect flexible materials, especially multi-layer plastics with low film thicknesses that feature improved barrier properties for use as food packaging. The second area is cardboard boxes which will apparently surpass their 2015 value of US$ 261 billion. One reason for the success of cardboard is the large number of returns in online orders.
Packaging in the global cosmetics sector is likely to rise by around 5% by 2020. Photo: Beaty Cosmetic Co. ,Ltd.

Packaging in the global cosmetics sector is likely to rise by around 5% by 2020. Photo: Beaty Cosmetic Co. ,Ltd.

The demand for aluminium is likely to grow, too, with an increasing use of aerosol cans, in particular – in personal care, in households and also in the automotive industry. Despite these figures, companies are aiming to save on material. Unilever, for instance, has reduced the amount of aluminium as input material by 24 tonnes over the last three years, following its introduction of compressed cans. The company’s deodorants are now only half as big as their predecessors, yet they offer the same protection as the larger variety.
Experts are expecting to see an annual increase of nearly 4.5% in the hard plastics application segment. Photo: continental-corporation

Experts are expecting to see an annual increase of nearly 4.5% in the hard plastics application segment. Photo: continental-corporation

Ceresana, too, has instructed its experts to conduct a study, and its market researchers are now expecting global plastic film consumption to reach around 70 million tonnes by 2020. Items that have proved to be especially consumer-friendly are take-away products in the food segment and flexible film packaging in non-food. Polyethylene stand-up pouches are at the top of Europe’s list for bags and sacks, and total sales are expected to reach over 9 million tonnes for these packaging types. They are followed closely by plastic films with an average annual growth of 3.4 per cent. Even lids and closures are increasingly made from plastic now, removing the need for traditional materials, such as tin and cork. In 2014 the European-wide sale of plastic closures reached 200 billion, i.e. over 60 billion more than in 2010, worth nearly EUR 2 billion.
According to experts, metal cans and glass bottles will increasingly be replaced by hard plastic. The reasons they quote are a reduced use of material as well as cost reductions and lower carbon emissions during transport.
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