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Flexible packaging tightens its wrap on the market

John Kalkowski

January 30, 2014

2 Min Read
Flexible packaging tightens its wrap on the market

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Flexible packaging tightens its wrap on the market

The mature packaging market in the U.S. has been somewhat hobbled in the last few years by the lingering recession. However, flexible packaging is one segment that has kept growing.


The reasons are simple: Consumers demand the convenience, quality, functionality and value that flexible packaging can provide. In addition, flexible packaging substrates provide opportunities to cut costs and can offer sustainability advantages by reducing the amount of materials required to lower package weight.

Two recent global studies by Pira Intl. and the Freedonia Group indicate that flexible packaging is likely to continue gaining market share. The recent Pira study forecasts that the global flexible packaging market will grow from $127.1 billion in 2009 to $137.5 billion in 2014.

The Freedonia study predicts world demand for converted flexible packaging will increase 3.5 percent annually to more than 19 million tons in 2013.

Flexible packaging can be easily tailored to meet demanding specifications for a wide range of products, the Pira study states, citing development over the years from simple paper wrappings and bags to sophisticated, multilayer and multimaterial packaging for barrier protection and shelf-life extension that can last for years.

According to both studies, key market drivers and trends identified for flexible packaging include:

  • Biodegradable and recyclable flexible materials gain favor as retailers and brand owners seek to improve the environmental footprint of their packaging.

  • Flexible films and bags are continually downgauged to reduce costs and minimize waste. However, this will restrain volume gains.

  • Flexible packaging allays growing concern about excessive packaging being disposed of in landfills in developed countries.

  • Stand-up pouches are replacing glass bottles and other traditional pack types for a range of food and beverage products.

  • Laminated films, foils and paper are being designed to preserve product freshness and extend shelf life.

The Freedonia study says plastics will continue to make inroads due to their superior price/performance profile along with developments in biodegradability and high-barrier resins.

Meanwhile, both studies agree that the growth of flexible packaging will be greatest in the developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. China already has surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest market for converted flexible packaging.

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