Although poor summer weather last year held back growth in French packaged beverage sales to only 2 per cent, the share accounted for by plastic packaging rose by double this amount due to its increased usage for water and carbonates, according to a new report from beverage market analysts Canadean.
Plastic now accounts for 75 per cent of beverage packaging in litreage terms and a little under 50 per cent in units, the report states, with both figures showing signs of sustainable growth.
Although demand for the second most widely used packaging material - glass - continued its relentless decline, there was some realignment in the all-important beer sector, with refillable packaging limiting its fall to less than 3 per cent and marginally increasing its share against non-refillable. Partly, this was the result of disappointing off premise sales, Canadean said.
Metal also lost share, falling back to just under 7 per cent, with 33cl cans having a particularly bad year owing to the impact of the adverse weather on French carbonates sales.
However, there is some cause for optimism in the metal packaging sector, where rising consumption of speciality beers is leading to a growing demand for 50cl cans, Canadean said. Although metal's share of the overall packaged beverage market is not expected to increase in the foreseeable future, it will at least stay stable this year if carbonates bounce back, the analysts suggest.
Laminates, which have only around 6 per cent share of unit fillings and five per cent of volume, had a similarly difficult time of it in 2002. Since almost all of their demand relates to juice and nectars, whose packaged sales fell nearly 2 per cent, a good summer in 2003 is likewise seen as their salvation. In addition, improved sales of iced tea and still drinks may possibly lead to slightly over 1 per cent growth.
Despite the fact that last years' 4.5 per cent decline in refillable packaging was significantly lower than the 1995-2000 annual average, non-refillable packaging now accounts for 97 per cent of volumes. The situation is unlikely to change as the French packaging industry has increasingly been moving towards non-refillable packaging, improving the recovery and recycling of materials to the point where non-refillable offers appreciable cost savings over refillable.
Demand for single-serve containers last year was down due to the poor performances of glass and metal, which between them account for more than half of all packaging units and cover about one fifth of fillings in litreage terms, Canadean said. Multi-serve, which in unit terms came in second, managed to improve demand due to the advance of plastic, which has a relatively small share in single-serve.
Looking ahead, Canadean said that total beverage volumes should pick up and benefit fillings across all sectors and material types - assuming the summer weather improves on last year. This in turn should lead to an increase in total packaged beverage production of almost 4 per cent.
For more details of the Beverage Packaging- France report from Canadean, click here.