Asia to drive global packaging growth to $1bn, study predicts

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
Packaging’s importance has been increasing in emerging markets, with Asia’s new influence predicted to drive the segment’s value to almost US$1bn by 2020, according to a new industry report.

Compiled by Smithers Pira, a global packaging, paper and print consultant, the study analyses 17 major and 33 smaller markets.

It found that the global packaging market was worth US$812bn in 2014, having grown at an annual rate of 4.2% since 2010. From 2015-20, Smithers Pira predicts this trend will slow marginally to 3.5%, reaching $998 billion at today’s prices. 

This growth is expected to be driven by Asia and stronger growth in regions that have struggled in recent years, particularly Western and Eastern Europe.

Following the financial crisis of 2008-09 that caused a significant decline in global sales of packaging, the market has picked up somewhat in recent years, although it does face continued challenges​,” said Paul Boyce, co-author of the report.

Continued urbanisation, growth in cost per package, sustainability and the growth in the consumer-class in emerging markets are all factors that are forecast to drive value growth going forward​.”

Asia accounted for the largest share of the packaging market in 2014, followed by North America and western Europe. 

Growth in packaging consumption has remained positive and reliably strong for the Asian region and there is still much potential for further increases as the consumer-class becomes more fully realised and consumption of cosmetics and other fast moving consumer goods, as well as healthcare, increases.

Flexible plastic packaging was the fastest growing market globally in 2014, followed by rigid plastic packaging, and board packaging as the third-fastest growing sector. Looking ahead, flexible plastic packaging is predicted to continue as the fastest growing packaging category.

Sustainability has become an increasingly prominent packaging issue.  One of the main packaging developments in recent years is the increased incorporation of bio-based PET into brands packaging supply chain. 

Coca-Cola is one of the most recent brands to release a bio-based PET bottle on the market, named the PlantBottle, which is made from 100% bio-based materials.

Sustainability issues have enhanced the focus and presence of lightweighting on the industry, according to Smithers Pira, which says it has become a common trend for packaging converters to reduce the weight of their products in order to reduce costs associated with transportation, reduce CO2 emissions, and to help create a more sustainable supply chain. 

In the last 20 years, the weight of an average 50cl plastic bottle has come down by around half. Lightweighting is also occurring in other markets such as metal, glass, and board, the report said.

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