The report – The Future of European Food and Drink Packaging to 2015 – predicts that take up of plastic bottles, and particularly PET containers, is set to accelerate between now and 2020, by which time they will have eclipsed glass.
The Pira research covers 12 European countries and regions; including the major Western European markets, Scandinavia and Eastern European countries Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, as well as Turkey.
The industry consultants said that bottles made from plastic added almost 12bn units to annual volumes between 2005 and 2010 and look set to add 17bn units by 2015 – notching up a compound annual growth rate that would consistently top 3 per cent.
“They will still rank fifth, but look poised to overtake glass bottles and jars by 2020,” said the study.
Pira identifies PET as the most widely-used and fastest growing polymer for plastic jars and bottles on the back of its increasing use as a replacement for other pack-types, especially in the beverage segment.
“In recent years, PET bottles have shown the strongest growth in the drinks sector by replacing glass bottles, liquid cartons and metal cans in many applications,” it said.
The trend is set to persist with PET bottles continuing to replace glass bottles for carbonated soft drinks, mineral water and milk, while plastic jars and bottles will replace a growing number of glass jars for food products, said the group
The report highlighted properties such as clarity, unbreakability, design flexibility, light weight, recyclability and economical production as having contributed to PET bottle growth in comparison with competing products.
Technological advances are expected to play a key role in the future prospects for PET bottles – with the uptake of more sophisticated and expensive products vital in maintaining upward momentum.
The study cites improvements in gas barriers properties and UV light protection to extend the shelf life of PET packaged products as a driver. Growth opportunities are also being fostered by new hot-filling processes for PET packaging of pasta, sauces, fruit juices, sports and energy drinks, ready-to-drink teas and beer.
“Critical improvements” in aseptic cold-filling processes are highlighted as having been key to boosting growth, it added.
The glass bottle and jar sector will also come under pressure from cans between 2015-2020, said Pira. The containers are predicted to supplant glass as the “single largest category”.
The Future of European Food and Drink Packaging to 2015 is now available from Pira International