The sector is expanding rapidly at the continued expense of both glass and cans, which are losing market share to new innovative forms of packaging. Indeed according to Canadean, the material has enjoyed such success in recent years that it now accounts for almost 40 per cent of the global pack mix and is nearly twice as popular as its nearest rival.
PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) is a strong but lightweight form of clear polyester. It is used to make containers for soft drinks, juices, alcoholic drinks, water, edible oils, household cleaners, and other food and non-food applications. Bottles now represent the most significant use of PET moulding resins.
Consumption of beverages packaged in NR PET containers has increased dramatically across all sectors and most notably packaged water. The global packaged water market has grown at a phenomenal rate and, as the sector's leading pack type, NR PET has benefited greatly.
This said, beer, nectars, still drinks, iced/RTD tea and coffee and energy drinks have all seen volumes increase by over 50 per cent since 2000.
Strong gains have also been made in each major region. The largest market by beverage volume for NR PET is Western Europe. The trend is similar in North America where in 2004, NR PET finally dislodged cans as the most widely used material.
Although it is the smallest market by volume, Eastern Europe has witnessed arguably the most impressive performance with NR PET enjoying more than 50 per cent of the pack mix.
Cartons and pouches/sachets have also performed well, buoyed by juice and nectars and fruit powders respectively, whilst bottle can volumes have risen sharply albeit from a very small base.
The Canadean report also reveals that despite its decline, glass is still by far the second most popular material. Beverage volumes packed in glass have only decreased slightly during the last four years.
However, market share has been surrendered due to the fact that traditional strongholds such as beer, carbonates and juice have not matched the explosive growth seen in packaged water. In 2004, only around 13 per cent of packaged water was sold in glass.
Cans also account for a tiny percentage of the packaged water market and have declined in the majority of sectors. Beer has though provided some cause for optimism with cans increasing slightly whilst the growing popularity of multi-serve cans has been very promising.
Beer cans appear to be making a recovery from the downturn in 2003, when volumes were not helped by the introduction of Germany's controversial deposit scheme. Iced/RTD coffee and energy drinks have both delivered welcome growth.
PET's major advantage is the strength of the material. Carbonated soft drinks can generate pressure inside the bottle reaching up to 6 bar. Such high pressure however, thanks to the alignment of macromolecules (cristallisation) occurring both during the resin spinning process and the blow-moulding process, is not capable of deforming the bottle nor can it make the bottle explode.
Another striking feature of PET is that it is fully recyclable. PET bottle recycling rates have continually increased, with the number of European PET bales offered to the recycling markets jumping from 449,000 tonnes in 2002 to 612,000 tonnes in 2003.
The Canadean report provides 893 pages of data on beverage packaging demand for beer and soft drinks by pack mix, pack size and beverage sector. Sections are also included for each major region and 55 countries.