Plastic packaging growth in US forecast to exceed paper

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Plastic packaging, Shelf life

Superior properties such as lightweighting and barrier protection will enable plastic packaging growth to outstrip that of paper in almost all US markets to the end of 2014, according to one industry report.

The research from The Freedonia Group predicts that demand for plastic packaging will grow by 2.3 per cent annually over the next four years – more than double the growth estimated for the paper packaging sector.

Manufacturing output for plastic is slated to rise over the period compared to 2004-2009 – as production rises from its depressed base in 2009, said the US-based organisation. Plastic has continued to expand its market share despite the volatility of resin prices.

“More moderate resin pricing through 2014 should make plastic even more competitive,”​ said the research.

Annual US demand for plastic packaging is forecast to rise from 4.9bn kg in 2009 to 5.6bn kg by 2014.

Material enhancements such as extending product shelf life, increased durability, as well as convenience characteristics such as resealability and microwaveability, will all contribute to drive plastic packaging growth said the report, Paper versus Plastic in Packaging.

“Advantages of light weight, moisture resistance, good barrier properties, clarity and puncture resistance will enable plastic to outpace paper packaging through 2014 in nearly all competitive markets”,​ said the study authors.

Paper demand

Total demand for paper in the US is forecast to increase by 1 per cent annually through 2014 – as manufacturing activity recovers and consumer demand grows. But the report says that while most markets will register limited gains, there will be above average demand in the soy and other non-dairy beverage, protective packaging and foodservice sectors.

US paper demand is predicted to rise from 5.6bn kg to 5.9bn kg by the end of the review period.

Major players

The paper and plastic packaging industries are dominated by large, well capitalized companies – the majority of whom specialize in one or other of the sectors.

But the report identifies a number of firms that are active in both – such as Bemis, Exopack, Graphic Packaging, Huhtamaki, Reynolds Group Holdings and Sonoco Products.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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