Although beverage packaging equipment sales represent only 30 per cent of Europe's retail packaging market, which also includes food and and pharmaceutical products, segment growth of above five per cent is expected in the next five years, according to analysts IMS Research. With the market for drinks packaging machines in 2007 amounting to €3.1bn in the combined European, Middle East and African markets, report author Don Tait said adapting to customer demands would be vital to tap potential for further growth. "Increasingly, consumer needs are influencing package design, [creating] demand for new machinery," he stated. "Supermarkets are also demanding new packaging styles, to differentiate themselves from their competitors, to catch consumer's attention and thus improve revenues." Health and convenience Machinery for developing packaging that can compliment beverages focused on convenience and health would be a particularly important area for processors, according to the report. "The market for packaging machinery is growing [partly] as a result of increased consumption of certain beverages," the findings stated. "Consumption of packaged water, fruit juice drinks and health drinks are forecast to increase markedly, growing at over 8 per cent a year. Single-serve beverages are also becoming increasingly popular for away-from-home consumption." Tait suggested that machinery designed to create more ergonomic bottles for benefits such as being easier to grip while running or packets that that can be resealed were examples of the types of product increasingly required. Environment Equally as important in targeting both consumer and retailer needs is the issue of reducing environmental impacts of packaging, in terms of both production and waste, according to the report. "Retailers are prioritising products, which can be immediately added to shelves without need for additional packaging, in their stores," Tait stated. According to the report, more medium-term industry concerns include energy efficiency improvements during the packaging process, as manufacturers continue to struggle with the increased costs of energy. Despite these emerging challenges for processors in how they package goods, Tait claimed that good old fashioned output capacity also had a role to play. "Manufacturers need to produce more machinery with greater output speeds to accommodate the increased demand," he stated.