Smithers Pira: ‘Slowest growing packaging type for 2015-2020 is glass’

Champagne houses are looking to pioneer isothermal packaging

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Isothermal packaging: Naturally Clicquot designed by Cedric Ragot for Veuve Clicquot
Isothermal packaging: Naturally Clicquot designed by Cedric Ragot for Veuve Clicquot

Related tags Bottle Recyclable materials Plastic Asia

The slowest growing packaging type for 2015-2020 is glass, according to Smithers Pira.

Its report, The Future of Global Packaging 2020, predicts how a market value forecast at $839bn (€768bn) in 2015, will undergo healthy year-on-year growth at 3.5%, reaching $998m in 2020.

Frosted glass, tactile effects & shapes

Co-authors Paul Boyce, and Jack Palmer, market analysts, Smithers Pira, claim glass is the slowest growing packaging type because it has undergone a longer-term transition from an essential commodity in packaging of beverages to a luxury material to create a premium feel.

At the top-end of this market, champagne houses are looking to pioneer isothermal packaging which keeps the product cold for around two hours after being removed from refrigeration.

According to Boyce, brewers meanwhile will continue to shift from traditional labels to premium-finish bottles using pressure-sensitive labels (PSL) to achieve a ‘no label’ look.

They will also investigate frosted glass, tactile effects and shapes to project a quality perception.

The report claims countries such as Africa, the Middle East and Asia, will expand beyond the market average, creating opportunities for material suppliers and converters, while more established regions will see significant business and demographic changes that will transform value chains in the packaging segment.

Flexible and rigid plastic packaging will increase market share as the world market approaches $1trn at the end of the decade.

The greatest expansion will occur in the next five years in new regions like Africa, the Middle East and Asia​,” said Boyce.

Conversely in some developed markets, like Australia, demand for rigid plastic is reaching a saturation point in applications such as carbonated soft drinks and bottled water​.

Substitutes for heavier metal cans

Strong competition between rigid plastic packaging and flexible plastic packaging is a source of growth, as various food and beverage applications utilise either plastic type​.”

Rigid plastic will experience the highest annual growth across the study period – 4.4% year-on-year due to the popularity of plastics, like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), as substitutes for heavier metal cans and glass bottles formats.

As a lightweight option these meet the dual goal of reduced material consumption and cost; and a reduced CO2​ footprint during transit.

This transition is supported by consumers who see smaller or lightweight packaging as environmentally friendly, though it competes with a poor public perception of the environmental profile of plastics at end-of-life.

The push for environmental savings, cost optimisation and recyclability driven by technological developments – such as blow moulding and PET bottles for markets like UHT milk, and hot-fill bottles and jars for cooking sauces –is set to continue​,” added Boyce.

Coca-Cola is one major name looking to address the negative connotations of packaging in plastic with the development of its 100% bioplastic Plant Bottle 2.0. The soft drinks multinational plans to have complete a global switchover to these by 2020​.”

Flexible format packaging – paper, plastics and foil laminates – expanded significantly over the past decade as technological changes transformed the packaging type from a low-cost industrial-use option into consumer-grade containers with a variety of applications.

The market for flexibles – and flexible plastics – will continue to boom over the next five years. This will happen at a rate slower than in the first half of the decade, but will exceed the mean market growth.

Asia - most significant regional market

Smithers Pira’s data shows Asia will continue to be the most significant regional market for flexible format packaging, and will increase its relative share of sales 42% to nearly 45% between 2015 and 2020.  

Global food will continue to dominate the market for flexible packaging – aligning with the pan-industry demand for lightweight packaging.

Innovation will continue to focus on improving the barrier properties of multilayer plastic and laminate formulations for food applications, or maintaining performance while reducing the thickness of the film.

Simultaneously high-speed filling equipment that holds containers by their neck fixtures will allow flexible formats to displace rigid PET in the beverage segment where its penetration has been limited.

Board packaging (corrugated formats, folding cartons and liquid cartons) is the material type with the highest value in 2015 – $261bn – a position it will retain in 2020.

In 2015, China overtook the US as the largest national market for paperboard packaging and will account for nearly a quarter of global consumption in 2020.

Of the major economies profiled by Smithers Pira, after China, two other Asian countries – India and South Korea – will have the greatest relative annual expansion across the study period.

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