On the opening morning of PACK EXPO, members of the packaging press were invited to attend the PACK EXPO Market Data Press Event & Breakfast. Kicking off the conference was a presentation from Jorge Izquierdo, vp, market development, PMMI who discussed confectionary trends and provided insight into the confectionary industry's needs, desires and trends related to packaging equipment, processing equipment, services and operational goals.
Globally, the industry is on the fast track for growth as middle-class consumers are being enticed by some of the sophisticated products being offered at affordable price points. In the U.S., the market has remained steady with innovative gourmet chocolate confections and new bean-to-bar operations.
According to Izquierdo, as a result this has presented challenges to today's confectionary manufacturers whom have been faced with several challenges such as increasing demands on and expectations for equipment providers to increase productivity, enhance accuracy and control and expand capabilities.
In 2012, chocolate confectionary sales in the U.S., according to Symphony IRI, were approximately $12.5 billion - a 3.8 percent growth over the prior year. Non-chocolate sales grew at a rate of 6.4 percent and gum sales declined 5.7 percent. In the U.S., the chocolate segment alone reached sales of $17.7 billion, which is 21 percent of global sales.
The report showed that annual investment in equipment varied from $125,000 to over $550 million. The expected growth over the next three years in equipment investment ranges from flat to 25 percent increase. Overall, equipment investment is expected to jump by four to five percent annually, which a large chunk of this spending going into emerging markets such as China, India, South East Asia, South America and the Middle East.
Packaging equipment needs are geared towards increasing speeds and respondents came back saying they are looking at equipment that they do not have in house, such as flow wrappers and stand-up pouch packaging equipment.
While rigid packaging will always have a place in the market, preferences for confectioners have been shifting towards flexible packaging, predominantly with mass-market confectioners. Named one of the fastest growing types of packaging has been stand-up pouches and flow-pack fin seals are still widely held.
In terms of materials, the report highlights that confectioners are seeking out recyclable packaging, in particular single-resin packaging. There has also been a shift to lower-weight mini flute cardboard for shelf-ready displays and secondary packaging. While biodegradable materials have great market appeal, they are still not looked at as ready for high-speed packaging lines.
Since each confectioner has unique-specific demands, the key is to understand the needs of each one and educate them on the possibilities of current machinery technologies and working with them to better understand what current and near future needs can and should be fulfilled first.