Rigid food packaging set to soar after a tough year

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rigid plastic packaging Recycling

The growing popularity of single-serving packaging will help to drive 22 per cent growth in global demand for rigid plastic packaging from $129.2bn this year to $158.3bn in 2014, predicts a new study by Pira International.

Its report, The Future of Global Rigid Plastic Packaging - market forecasts to 2014, highlights growing demand for single-serving packaging, such as plastic bottles, cups and containers in a wider range of food applications

Rigid plastic packaging will also benefit from manufactures’ increasing preference for this material in place of traditional packaging such as paperboard, metal and glass containers, it adds.

Plastic containers

The popularity of plastic containers will reflect performance advantages over glass, metal and paperboard plus improved resin and processing technologies, according to the report’s authors.

But rigid packaging is expected to face growing competition from flexible pouch packaging in various food and beverage applications. This will arise from cost and performance advantages that will allow these products to challenge rigid packaging.

Bags and pouches are also likely to gain in popularity as brand-owners focus on promoting the environment-friendliness of their packaging materials.

Five key challenges face the rigid packaging sector this year, according to the report. Those include:

  • Lower end-user demand due to global recession;
  • Rising polymer prices which are squeezing profit margins as buyers resist passing on the full cost and rising energy and transport costs;
  • Increased bargaining power of major suppliers and buyers as players grow bigger due to merger and acquisition;
  • Tough recycling targets putting further pressure on packaging suppliers to collect and recycle waste packaging;
  • Growing public pressure to reduce excessive packaging as consumers become more aware of how packaging impacts the environment.

Responding to the challenges, packagers are including greater recycled content for their plastics packaging, continuing to lightweight plastic packages, and adopting polymers that are biodegradable or derived from sustainable resources.

Plastic packaging

Publisher of the report, Adam Page comments: "Rigid plastic packaging suppliers will struggle to grow market share in well-established markets. They will have to focus more on developing profitable niche applications, continuing to improve the performance properties of rigid plastics to meet more demanding specifications, and developing more environment-friendly pack solutions. They should also place more emphasis on the developing markets for rigid plastic packaging in Asia, central and eastern Europe and South America."

The Future of Global Rigid Plastic Packaging report is available from Pira, priced £3,500.


Related topics Processing & Packaging