US demand to exceed $21 billion in 2017
Demand for converted flexible packaging in the US market is expected to rise 3.5 percent annually to more than $21 billion in 2017, or 9.1 billion pounds. Growth will be driven by the packaging market’s ongoing investment in specialty film and advanced materials for higher-value offerings. These offerings emphasize longer shelf life, performance features, source reduction and protection from outside contaminants. The converted flexible packaging market also is boasting greater acceptance from major brand owners. With a proliferation of new products on the retail market in a variety of niche applications, high volumes of a single package are not as critical, diminishing the advantages of rigid packaging and its ability to produce more packages at lower cost. Furthermore, consumer buying behavior also is playing a role, as shoppers demand packages offering portability and ease of handling. Recent market penetration in such categories as soups, condiments, baby food, noncarbonated beverages, foodservice containers, fresh-cut produce, and snack food bode well for continued gains.
Pouches to be fastest growing
The pouch market will continue to showcase above-average gains, penetrating segments that had once been considered hallmarks of rigid packaging. Standup pouches offer the most promise for growth in converted flexible packaging, and a large variety of new pouches with specialty features has entered the retail market. Bolstering the pouch’s repeated gains over rigid alternatives have been new technology introductions that include innovative fitments and closures and more sophisticated reseal features, which bring higher value to pouches. The use of thinner film, fewer coextrusion layers and laminates, and a new focus on recyclable materials are driving sustainability efforts and lowering production and freight costs. Many producers are considering mono-material structures that avoid the use of foil or other barrier materials, helping enhance production and potential recyclability. Advances in metalized and oriented films have improved both barrier and decorative qualities. The pet food market, once considered the province of multiwall bags, has become a key area of emphasis, as are snack foods, frozen food, confectionery, and meat and poultry. Pouches are expected to continue their rapid acceleration and take share from rigid packaging.
Bags to remain largest product segment
Bags, both in plastic- and paper-based materials, will not grow as quickly as pouches but represent the largest segment of converted flexible packaging. Many applications in this segment are stable and face limited competition from other materials, but they are also in maturing market sectors. Higher barrier and reclosability features and the high graphics appeal of certain films will help plastic bags record gains from multiwall paper alternatives, especially for pet food, home improvement, and lawn and garden products. New medical and pharmaceutical applications also offer ripe opportunities for bags. Paper bags will remain a stable, healthy format, and the material’s recyclability advantages and use of natural materials will help them continue to carve a strong niche among environmentally minded consumers. In overwraps, the advent of modified atmosphere packaging, perforated, and breathable structures has led to newer applications in meat and poultry and cheese packaging, helping stem the issue of food spoilage and align with safety concerns.
Profiles for US industry players such as Bemis, Berry Plastics, Exopack, Graphic Packaging, Printpack and Sealed Air
This study examines the converted flexible packaging industry in the United States. Historical (2002, 2007, and 2012) data and forecasts for 2017 and 2022 are presented for materials, products, and markets. Data for products are presented in dollars and data for primary materials are presented in pounds, with data for markets presented in both dollars and pounds. Demand (apparent consumption) is defined as production plus imports less exports, and includes both captive and merchant markets. In addition, the key strategic and competitive variables affecting the US converted flexible packaging industry are discussed, and the industry’s key players are identified and profiled. US market share is also presented. The entire study is framed within the context of overall economic conditions, as well as developments and technologies affecting the converted flexible packaging industry and its end users.
Converted flexible packaging generally consists of a single ply or multiple plies of paper, plastic film, or foil (in various combinations) which are laminated together by an adhesive system. Coextruded, oriented, and metallized plastic film is also included. Paper includes all grades and finishes except paperboard and molded pulp. Converting operations include coating, waxing, laminating, printing, and the fabrication of bags, pouches, and other preformed packages or rollstock that is converted into such forms. Slitting alone is not considered a converting process. Wrappers — which are unconverted flexible materials such as shrink and stretch film, plain film and foil wrapping paper, unbleached kraft paper, and related products — are also not included, although printed, coated, or otherwise converted overwraps are included. Data also do not encompass any uncoated single web paper, film, or foil that is neither preformed nor printed.
This study includes primary packaging only and excludes secondary and transport packaging. Primary packaging is defined as materials in direct contact with food or other products and which function to contain, protect, and store products for future consumption (e.g., pasta pouches or candy wrap). Also excluded are products such as retail, grocery and novelty bags and sacks; paper yard waste and refuse sacks; trash bags; household and institutional plastic storage bags and rolls of waxed paper, film, or foil; money bags; mailing envelopes; sausage casings; shrink sleeve and other labels; lidding; and foodservice disposable packaging, such as sandwich wrap or stretch wrap.