PLA in food packaging is a ‘big challenge’

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

PLA market to reach $5.2bn by 2020
PLA market to reach $5.2bn by 2020

Related tags: Chemical industry, Nova chemicals, Polylactic acid, Pla

The global Polylactic Acid (PLA) market is expected to reach $5.2bn by 2020, according to Allied Market Research (AMR), but the material still faces stiff competition from other products on the market such as PET and PVC and PE.

AMR, part of Allied Analytics in the US, claims Asia Pacific will be the fastest growing market at a CAGR of 21.6% during this period whereas Europe will maintain its lead in terms of revenue till 2020, despite slower growth.

Packaging is the largest application segment but textiles and electronics will follow adopting the product more quickly.

Future cost savings

Sarah Clark, analyst, AMR, told FoodProductionDaily, PLA penetration in food packaging is a bigger challenge, given the number of alternatives such as PET and PVC.

However, industry sources reveal the cost of PLA is competitive with other alternatives such as PET at the moment. We cannot ignore the cost saving in manufacturing processing​,” she said.  

The raw materials required for PLA (eg corn) are available in abundance and at a lesser price. Also, PLA production consumes comparatively less energy. This can fetch good margins for food packaging companies​.”

Clark added the chances of PET prices shooting up in the future is likely, due to depleting petro-chemical resources and a continuous hike in costs for similar products.

Scope to grab good share

The industry is already suffering from price fluctuations. It’s pretty safe to say that PLA based set-up is today’s investment for future profits​,” she said.

Unlike other green products PLA has significant scope to grab a good share in commercial applications​.”

The biggest impact, she added, is felt due to regulations –not just limited to plastic bags.

As an example, Clark mentioned the on-going debate on a ban of plastic-foam food containers that’s adding over 20,000 tons of plastic to the trash in New York.

Packaging trends

Such trends may impact the entire packaging market very soon. With respect to PLA properties, industry sources reveal that extensive experiments on flavor, freshness and off-flavor issues were conducted for PLA versus PET scenario​,” she said.

In most cases PLA proved to be equally effective, and in some cases slightly on the higher side​.”

AMR analyst, Ranjan Singh, who worked with Clark on the report, said the research looks at the global PLA market under categories such as application and raw materials.

Applications cover packaging, textile (woven and non-woven), electronics, biomedical, and agriculture while raw materials include, corn, tapioca, sugarcane and wheat.

The market is divided into the regions North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and rest of the world.

It also includes company profiles of manufacturers of PLA - Nova Chemicals Corporation, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical, Nature Works, DuPont Corporation, Bayer AG, Exxon Mobil Chemical, Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC), China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), Braskem.

AMR’s ‘Polylactic Acid (PLA) Market in Packaging, Textile, Agriculture, Transportation, Bio-Medical, Electronics and Others - Global Industry Size, Company Share, Growth, Trends, Strategic Analysis and Forecast, 2012 – 2020’ is available to read here​.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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