That's the top line from a report by PCI Films, 'The European Flexible Packaging Market 2011', which noted that the region's flexible packaging sales grew by 6.2 per cent in 2010 compared with 4.4 per cent achieved in western Europe: overall growth was 4.7 per cent.
Report author Paul Gaster told FoodProductionDaily.com that the Eastern European market, which currently accounts for around 20 per cent of the European market, has substantial growth potential over the next decade.
This could see the region's flexible packaging market, of which food packaging accounts for 70 per cent, grow to around a third in the next 10 years.
“Eastern Europe is certainly going to become more important in the overall flexible packaging market over the next ten years,” said Gaster.
“Their growth is high, they’re still an emerging market; consumption of flexible packaging will continue to grow over the next 10 years to a larger proportion of flexible packaging sales in Eastern Europe,” he added.
Although nearly all Eastern European national markets showed growth, Russian sales performed particularly strong during 2010, with an increase of around 9 per cent, which the PCI spokesperson attributed to the region’s status as an emerging market and multinational investment.
“There has been really impressive growth in the Eastern European sector, with Russia and Poland showing good, solid growth in particular - but it is really Russia that has been the most rapid performer,” he said.
“There has been a lot of inward investment by multinationals into Russia and a huge increase in the number of supermarkets in the country - so the supply chain is improving,” he added.
“It’s a difficult market to operate in, but by and large the flexible packaging market growth will continue to grow strong.”
Amcor market domination
Elsewhere within the report, European demand for flexible packaging reached €12.3bn in 2010 - €11bn converted and €1.3bn unconverted.
The report also reveals Amcor's market dominance. Following its acquisition of Alcan’s European flexible packaging operations, the firm now accounts for nearly one quarter of all European flexible packaging sales.
With its nearly rival only around a third of the size, Amcor has become the dominant flexible packaging supplier in Europe.
This has led to investment by other companies in the European market, in an effort to ‘bulk up’.
Gaster added: “Europe’s flexible packaging market continues to grow in spite of the serious economic and financial upheaval currently affecting European economies.
"Demand is underpinned by the strongly non-cyclical nature of flexible packaging’s principal end-use-markets food, pharmaceuticals and pet food."