North American beverage industry to hit $45.5bn valuation by 2028, plastic packaging to remain a problem

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

Aluminum and glass bottles may see the greatest innovation in packaging design and graphics in the next decade.
Aluminum and glass bottles may see the greatest innovation in packaging design and graphics in the next decade.

Related tags Package Packaging Sustainability

Plastic makes up 45% of packaging material and will grow to 55% in the next decade, hitting $45.5bn, according to the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI).

The beverage industry is undergoing changes, both in terms of flavors, offerings and packaging. There has been a decided shift toward health and wellness in food and drink, but packaging materials and sourcing are also being affected by consumers’ desire to be more natural and sustainable.

Convenience wins out

In its recent ‘Beverage Trends in Packaging and Processing Operations’ report, PMMI found that plastic will remain the most popular packaging material over the next decade, despite efforts to cut back on plastic use. It will grow from 45% in 2018 to 55% in 2028.

Use of aluminum and glass materials will decline slightly, though 70% of respondents in PMMI’s research said they believe aluminum and glass bottles will see the greatest innovation in packaging design and graphics.

This aligns with recent major consumer trends like convenience and portability. Beverage packaging that is easier to take on-the-go, reclosable and unbreakable is likely to be more popular with consumers.

According to PMMI, 75% of beverage companies surveyed talked about pack sizes, and more than 75% of that group shared that their companies are ”adjusting both pack sizes and pack designs to improve portability.”

The report reveals more than 50% of participants at carbonated soft drink companies believe the 8oz. size will soon be the dominant size in the US and Canada for better portion control.

Other important insights include non-alcoholic RTD beverages in glass containers are expected to grow at 40% while wine in plastic containers will increase 100% by 2028.

PackExpo 2018

PMMI-produced PackExpo and Healthcare Packaging Expo are co-located in Chicago October 14-17, 2018. The joint show offers opportunities for beverage manufacturers to explore new package designs, cutting-edge machinery technology and automation solutions to meet consumer demands and help achieve their business goals. Bringing together 2,500 exhibitors and 50,000 attendees over 1.2m net square feet of exhibit space from every vertical market, PackExpo International is the year’s most comprehensive packaging event in North America.

Sustaining the future

Main drivers of these figures come from a rise in millennials craving creativity, premium and ultra-premium brands, environmentally friendly initiatives in packaging and natural and organic products.

More consumers have been incorporating a level of environmental responsibility into their lives, and subsequently demanding it from brands as well. According to PMMI, plastic bottles made from 100% recycled PET resin “now offer the same clarity and barrier properties as 100% virgin PET.”

More than 75% of surveyed beverage companies are actively taking steps to use fewer materials in their packaging and reduce their carbon footprint. Aluminum is recycled most often, accounting for 70% of all recycled beverage containers, while glass accounts for just 23%.

Sustainable, aseptic containers are gaining in popularity with an expected growth of 75% by 2028, while more traditional tabletop cartons and two-liter plastic bottles are declining in usage.

PMMI’s research revealed most manufacturers are not considering ecommerce to be a significant channel for beverages yet. The main concern with ecommerce packaging is smaller boxes being used for individual home delivery rather than bulk distribution to brick-and-mortar stores.

But respondents were concerned about a shortage of qualified labor for maintenance and operations. They consider it a major challenge currently facing the industry. As a result, there has been an increase in training and recruitment programs, as well as highly automated and simplified equipment innovations.

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1 comment

secondary plastic packaging no longer a problem

Posted by fran bourke,

Manufacturers - make it easier for the consumer to de-litter and recycle by adopting the 'Polatote' concept where all beverages can be placed back into the original outer packaging for convenient placement in the recycling bin.
Polatote recently won the PIDA 2018 Australian Beverage award for innovative packaging design.

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