Cleveland based Freedonia, in its study Paper versus Plastic in Packaging forecasts that material enhancements that extend shelf life and increase durability, along with reduced material usage and the addition of convenience features such as resealability and steam cooking will fuel opportunities for plastic packaging.
The firm predicts that total demand for paper and plastic in competitive packaging markets is projected to increase 1.3 per cent per year to 26.1 billion lbs in 2012, with plastic packaging forecast to climb 2.4 per cent annually over the next three years.
The fastest market share increases for plastic, claims Freedona, will occur in pet food and soy beverage packaging, with sectors such as protective packaging, dairy, fruit beverage and frozen food also expected to pick up.
A spokesperson for the research firm told FoodProductionDaily.com that plastic bottles will find heightened usage in soy beverages because of the containers' convenient handling and the availability of resealable single-serving sizes.
She said that “while the majority of soymilks are packaged in paperboard cartons and aseptic boxes, these beverages are also increasingly packaged in plastic bottles, including types with full-body shrink labels.”
According to the spokesperson, a further advantage of plastic bottles is that they are more widely recycled than aseptic and gable top cartons.
The market analysts said that slowest volumes for plastic will occur in relatively saturated markets such as milk and baked goods, though they claim that plastic will log more rapid growth in smaller sized milk bottles, driven by conversions from gable top cartons in schools and quick service restaurants.
Though most packaging firms specialize in either paper or plastic, several of the larger producers are diversified across both materials.
The spokesperson added that the most successful players in the industry are generally those that have used strategic acquisitions to build leadership positions across a range of paper and plastic products.