Strong growth projected for worldwide flexible packaging industry
The “Flexible Packaging Market – Global Outlook & Forecast 2023-2028” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.
The global flexible packaging market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.12% during 2023-2028. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the flexible packaging market witnessed a supply chain disruption because of a voluntary shutdown of factories or authorities enforcing lockdown.
In some cases, though, the workforce at the supplier location had been reduced to ensure a certain amount of work was carried out to deliver smaller batches of materials required at the converter’s place.
The high prices of premium categories of F&B products are expected to be majorly impacted, while the reasonably priced essential F&B products are expected to see higher demand. In Italy, the post-COVID-19 situation prompted the packaging vendors to reassess and revisit their inventories. The packaging vendors have re-strategized their supply chain by reducing dependence on cross-border suppliers as there exists a fear of trade route blockade.
As some end-use applications have flourished, the demand for flexible packaging has been affected due to less consumption. Medicines, dairy products, food, sanitizers, face masks, disinfectants, and others have been in high demand. These products also require packaging, particularly flexible packaging, thereby increasing demand for flexible packs in the flexible packaging market.
Market Trends and Opportunities
Increased Adoption Of Flexible Packaging Over Rigid Packaging
Major influencing factors in the global flexible packaging market include the cost of raw materials, lesser cost of production, and lightweight nature.
Further, the demand from buyers and end customers is compelling the shift to flexible packaging. The advent of smaller packs and single-serve packaging has resulted in more packages of lesser volume in 2020 and during COVID-19.
The flexible packaging market also offers easy-to-use caps and closure functionalities that were previously one of the reasons for slower adoption rates. Flexible pouches have become the most sought-after product as they can package products belonging to food, pharma, beverages, FMCG, and others.
Also, other flexible packaging products, such as aluminum foil and paper, have expanded their scope with many variations. Also, the newer retort packages with increased protection features from the external environment, combined with functionalities such as zips and spouts, are increasing the adoption of pouch packaging and, in turn, flexible packaging over rigid packaging. Hence, a greater number of products that were earlier packaged in rigid materials are flexible adoption packaging.
Usage of High-Barrier Plastic Packaging Materials
The barrier properties of films used in plastic packaging are important as it ensures that the food is not spoilt and shelf life is increased. The advent of thinner packaging materials leads to a requirement for high-barrier properties. These barrier properties include the permeability of gases, water vapor, aroma compounds, and light.
The polymers used in these plastic films are the essential differentiating factor for the efficacy of such barrier films in maintaining the quality of packaged or processed foods. The flexible plastic packaging market widely uses high-barrier films for premium food protection. The lightweight nature and flexibility of flexible packaging using these high-barrier films replace traditional packaging materials such as metal, rigid plastic, and glass.
With the growing demand for high-barrier packaging, especially in the vacuum packaging market due to its cost-effectiveness and efficiency, recyclable high-barrier plastics such as stand-up pouches are preferred. Moreover, rising awareness of eco-friendly and convenient packaging in the food industry is also expected to increase the demand for high-barrier vacuum packaging in the flexible packaging market.
Recycling Challenges With Flexible Packaging Products
Recycling flexible pouches and other products are cumbersome and not economically viable, as separating those materials involves many processes. Unlike rigid plastic products, recycled flexible packaging cannot be used for packaging food and pharmaceuticals as per FDA regulations. The recycled material can only be used for other applications. The recycling process involves the collection of waste, sorting, and recycling. In these processes, the materials undergo washing, shredding, and categorization of plastic and extruding. Low-quality materials are disposed of or transferred to energy recovery centers, as end-users use only high-quality material output.
Further, presently, the supply of recycled plastics is not robust. Also, the quality of recycled plastics is not uniform across all regions and facilities. The volume of plastics required by converters is enormous, and the supply side is yet to match the huge demand. This is one of the factors why the adoption rates are currently low for recycled plastics and creates a recycling challenge in the global flexible packaging market. Any fluctuation in the quality or quantity has an immediate impact on the prices of the end products and hence is currently not economically viable.
The global flexible packaging market is highly fragmented, with several top vendors operating. However, the industry is witnessing consolidation, albeit at a slow pace. The key vendors in the global flexible packaging market include Amcor, Berry Global, Mondi, Sealed Air, TC Transcontinental Packaging, Sonoco, Huhtamaki, Constantia Flexibles, Ahlstrom, Greif, WestRock, Smurfit Kappa, Alu Flex Pack, Aptar Group.
The industry has witnessed the entry of many external players by adopting an inorganic growth strategy to expand its operations in many regions. The larger players have technological strength and high-volume product lines that have helped offset the cost variations. The smaller companies focus on customization, as the competition in the market is mainly based on two aspects – features and price.
Recent Developments In The Global Flexible Packaging Market
- In September 2022, Amcor announced an investment of around USD 45 million in ePac Flexible Packaging, digitally based flexible packaging with high quality and short run length.
- In August 2022, Berry Global launched top-selling thermoformed and injection stretch blow-molded food packs in recycled PET (rPET) form.
- In June 2021, Mondi and one of the Dutch cheese packaging companies, Hazeleger, developed a mono-material solution for packaging Westland Kaas Maaslander cheese slices. These packings have the properties of being lightweight and easily recyclable.
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