According to the estimates of the World Packaging Organisation, the global packaging industry reports an annual turnover of about US$500 billion. Of this, packaging containers account for the highest share and the other major segment is that of packaging machinery, pegged at about US$25 billion.
This global packaging market is unique in that in the short term, it is influenced by overall economic health, development of new materials, and other consumer trends. In the long run, the global packaging market is very gradually shifting toward smaller package sizes because families are shrinking in size and do not eat together as frequently as they did before. Regulatory changes are heavily impacting packaging trends too. This has compelled a number of companies to bring about slow yet visible changes to the raw materials, procurement, and processes associated with the entire packaging value chain.
Global Packaging Market History
Until a decade ago, North America was the largest stakeholder in the global packaging market with a significant 32% share, states the World Packaging Organisation. The North America region was considerably larger than Asia and Europe, both of which accounted for 26% of market shares. The United States has for a long time been the largest national market in the global packaging market. But this is about to change as China is fast outpacing the world’s largest economy in various packaging segments such as food and beverage packaging, pharmaceutical packaging, liquid packaging containers, and other forms of rigid and flexible packaging materials.
Packaging Industry Subsectors and Growth Trends
The World Packaging Organization, in its report published in 2008, states that there are about 100,000 companies active in the global packaging manufacturing industry, creating as many as 5 million jobs. These numbers will likely rise as the industry continues to expands. From food and beverage products to pharmaceuticals to FMCG to electronics to furniture and a myriad of other industrial and consumer durables, packaging has a prominent role to play in the value chain. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent segments within the global packaging market and the sub-segments therein:
- Food and Beverage Packaging Market: Packaging materials used in the food and beverage come in close contact with edible materials. This makes it imperative for food and beverage packaging materials to adhere to the highest health and safety standards. The many sub-segments within the larger food and beverage packaging market are: rigid and flexible plastic packaging, wood packaging, cardboard packaging, glass and metal packaging, earthenware packaging, leather packaging, and textile packaging, among others. As consumers find themselves in the middle of increasingly busy lifestyles, the need for on-the-go food and beverages is growing and the packaging industry needs to adapt to this change. The Asia Pacific sector will demonstrate the highest growth in the global food and beverage packaging market.
- Pharmaceutical Packaging Market: Pharmaceutical packaging plays an indispensible role in preventing biological contamination and enabling pharmaceutical formulations to retain their properties through the entire logistical and purchase cycle. Advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology and electronics (pertinent to packaging technologies) will directly influence the overall pharmaceutical packaging market. Despite strong growth prospects, the ever-shifting regulatory landscape and raw material supply remain a key area of concern for players in this market.
- Bioplastics Packaging for Food and Beverages: From federal agencies to lay consumers, everyone is receiving incentives to buy products packaged using bioplastics. Nanotechnology-based bioplastics are a trend that will massively change the way this packaging material is produced and applied. However, government agencies are still trying to find the ideal way to separate bioplastics from conventional plastics during the disposal phase – this challenge needs to be overcome before bioplastics packaging can truly begin to develop.
- Liquid Packaging Cartons Market: Quality liquid packaging cartons are of prime importance for products such as milk and liquid dairy products, water, juices, soft drinks and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. As consumers are increasingly motivated to purchase products that are packaged using eco-friendly materials, this industry will have to find ingenious ways to reduce reliance on plastics on a large scale. This has spurred many R&D and innovation projects in the liquid packaging cartons market. Players in the liquid packaging cartons market find themselves competing with other container materials such as PET and HDPE.
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Growing Emphasis on Sustainable Packaging will Shape the Packaging Market of the Future
- Materials: The stronger the barrier characteristics of packaging materials, the higher their performance. A longer shelf life is important too, as companies look to expand into newer markets to boost revenues without compromising heavily on supply-chain efficiencies. Constant innovation in sustainable packaging materials will continue to remain a strong suit of market leaders such as TetraPak.
- Technology: The use of nanotechnology and intelligent digital printing solutions for packaging is the most important trend on the horizon. The role of technological innovation also comes into play in developing lightweight packaging materials so as to help save fuel during transportation and reduce overall carbon footprints. technological innovation also helps create stronger packaging materials that are also lighter.
- Size and features: Companies in the global packaging market are under pressure to make packaging more convenient, handy and strong, all while retaining the quality and integrity of products being packaged. Lighter corrugated board packaging has been catching up in Europe, whereas North America still hasn’t shown a very strong demand for lightweight packaging.
Leaders in the Global Packaging Market
The global packaging materials and systems market is an intensely competitive space. This, combined with the highly fragmented nature of the market makes for interesting dynamics in the global packaging market. It is expected that about 20 of the top companies hold only just about 20% of the global packaging market share. Some of the leaders in the global packaging market are: Tetra Laval, International Paper Company, Reynolds Group, Crown Holdings, Amroc, and others.