Representing just 8.5% of the world film extrusion capacity in 2012 for BOPP, BOPET and BOPA films, North American oriented film producers have been slow to invest and are now unable to fulfil the region’s domestic needs.
This results in increasing volumes of North America’s demand for oriented films being met by imports, said the consultancy firm in its latest report.
With forecasts to 2017, the report provides insight into how the future market might look in terms of capacity, production, trade and demand.
Acquisitions in the market
Simon King, report author, cited examples such as Jindal Poly Films buying ExxonMobil’s BOPP business in October last year and Taghleef snapping up Applied Extrusion Technologies (AET Films) which was approved in June last year.
“Food packing companies have dealt with Asian packers for years, so I don’t see them blinking at this. Investment is going on in new capacity so there is still a reliance on imports but that is getting less as companies are building here,” he told FoodProductionDaily.com.
“North America has always had strong research and development but the market was overtaken by the growth in Asia and the technology they had for the machinery, so they had excess capacity which they had to push elsewhere.
“They didn’t need to come to the US to sell it because the US distributors went out and found them. The industry will still exist but it will be owned by non-US corporations and there is no precedent that exists but there is no reason why it shouldn’t work.”
He said across the different types of film, the other players that have not already been mentioned included DuPont, Toray, Treofan, UFlex, Winpak and Honeywell.
Usage of bi-axially orientated polypropylene (BOPP) was 80% to the flexible packaging in North America for food and non-food (tobacco, pet food etc) products while bi-axially polyethylene terephthalate (BOPET) was 45% and bi-axially orientated polyamide (BOPA) 90%.
There is no reason a production facility in the US shouldn’t be competitive with a growing flexible packaging marketplace which requires BOPP, BOPET and BOPA films, added King.
Much of the domestic film extrusion capacity is of an age that requires significant investment in order to compete with the imports from low cost producers in other markets.
But North American producers should be showing their commitment to their customers and planning for the long term.
PCI said it is not surprising that some US owners have decided to withdraw from the market, rather than make the necessary investment.
“North America was a strong polymer base to science and it retained its leadership role for about 10-15 years despite the capacity growth elsewhere.
“US producers reduced the price to compete but with older and narrower machines they didn’t make the reinvestment because the return was not there,” King added.