According to a new study, U.S. demand for beverage containers is projected to increase 2.4 percent per annum to 272 billion units in 2012, valued at $26.3 billion. Packaged beverage production will approach 42 billion gallons. Unit gains will be driven by continued consumer preference for single-serving containers in many beverage markets, growing interest in enhanced or functional beverages and high levels of new product introductions accompanied by aggressive marketing efforts.
In addition, favorable demographics, such as healthy expansion of the older population groups, will stimulate demand for certain beverages (e.g., wine) and related containers.
Plastic to remain fastest growing material segment
According to the study, plastic containers -- which held 61 percent of total gallons packaged in 2007 -- continue to be the fastest growing segment of the beverage container industry, having captured a substantial share of the market from traditional metal, glass and paperboard containers over the past several decades.
Advances will be buoyed by continued healthy growth for PET bottled waters. The use of single-serving PET bottles has also been a key factor in positioning water as an alternative to soft drinks. Healthy growth is also expected in markets such as sports drinks, ready-to-drink (RTD) tea and other nonalcoholic RTD beverages, where the shatter resistance, light weight, resealability and portability of plastic bottles make them appealing for on-the-go consumption.
Metal containers, the second leading beverage container type in unit terms due to widespread use in the sizable soft drink and beer markets, will register minimal growth as a result of declining soft drink and beer production. However, good prospects are expected in fast-growing beverages such as energy drinks and eight-ounce soft drink cans. Demand for aluminum bottles will increase rapidly from a low base due to their upscale appearance, which provides a key element of product differentiation.
Glass container demand will expand modestly, helped by the entrenched position of bottles in wine packaging and robust gains in markets such as RTD tea and other nonalcoholic RTD beverages, where glass’s premium image continues to be a marketing advantage. Demographic trends, particularly above-average growth in the 55 and over population, an important wine cohort, will also aid glass container demand.
Declining demand for paperboard containers will stem from continued supplantation of gabletop cartons by plastic bottles and aseptic cartons by pouches. However, healthy growth for soymilk, which utilizes a significant amount of paperboard containers, will boost demand. Additionally, bag-in-box wine containers will see robust gains based on their convenience and ongoing efforts to improve their image.
Bottled water to lead gains among largest markets
Carbonated soft drinks, bottled water and milk were the largest markets for beverage containers, with a combined 64 percent share of packaged beverage production in gallon terms in 2007. Although soft drinks’ share of packaged volume will decline as a result of concerns about the link between soft drinks and obesity, bottled water will continue to post above-average gains as a result of its healthy profile. Below average growth is expected in alcoholic beverages, although improved outlooks for wine and distilled spirits will stimulate container demand.