Chinese ‘shift’ away from carbonates boosts liquid carton sales, analyst suggests

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Picture Copyright: Tetra Pak
Picture Copyright: Tetra Pak
A Chinese ‘health and wellness’ trend inspiring a move away from carbonates towards waters and teas with added vitamins is boosting liquid carton sales, according to Euromonitor packaging analyst Regina Maiseviciute.

Rapid growth in juice and dairy sales was also driving Chinese category growth, Maiseviciute said in a company podcast, noting that she expected liquid carton consumption to rise by almost 36bn units in China from 2011 to 2015, with the country forecast to account for 71% of global growth.

“One of the most influential trends in the market is the rising desire for health and wellbeing, and the increasing disposable incomes amongst both rural and urban populations would be a key driver for the country’s uptake of packaged goods,” ​she said.

Dynamic growth

Discussing (1) (Tetra) Brik, (2) gable-top and (3) other-shaped cartons – Maiseviciute predicted that global liquid carton sales would rise 6% on a CAGR basis from 2011 to 2015, with the bulk of growth deriving from Brik and shaped liquid cartons in soft drink and food applications.

“Although BRIC cartons are the most widely used, and in 2011 they accounted for 68% of global liquid carton sales, the variety of other shaped liquid cartons is contributing to the more dynamic growth, because they offer the fliexibility required to deliver added value, and on-shelf production differentiation."

Euromonitor forecasts showed that shaped liquid cartons would grow at a CAGR rate of 11% from 2011 to 2015, she added.

“The decline in use of gable-top cartons is occurring primarily in the US, as part of an overall decline in liquid cartons and in particular the decline in juice purchasing. The trend is also apparent in Mexico, which saw a big decline in gable-tops in food packaging between 2006 and 2011.

“From a geographical perspective, global volume growth from 2011 to 2015 will continue to be spearheaded by fast-developing countries, with Asia-Pacific and specifically China a key contributor to the ongoing success of liquid cartons.”

Category differentiation

Even in mature regions such as Western Europe, interesting liquid carton trends were emerging, Maiseviciute noted, since they were being used in premium liquid dairy launches by Parmalat and Granarolo Group, “particularly active in Italy with added-value functional milks, for example”.

She added: “Liquid carton producer SIG Combibloc notes a trend in Western Europe where it has focused on the growth of soup, sauces, dressings and condiments in liquid cartons – giving it opportunities to differentiate from more standard packaging like the domestic food can.”

Beyond China, the best prospects for growth lay in India, while Eastern Europe (especially Russia) also had good prospects. Despite its scale Western Europe offered little growth promise, the analyst said.

She added: “The two leading users of liquid cartons – dairy and soft drinks, are expected to fare similarly from 2011-2015. Dairy will see the largest volume growth, while soft drinks will grow a little faster in value terms.”

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