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Middle East and Africa a dynamic region for flexible packaging

Middle East and Africa a dynamic region for flexible packaging
MEA consumption chart

MEA consumption chart

In 2013 the market for flexible packaging in the Middle East and Africa is valued by PCI at approaching US$4 billion. With consumption per capita currently only around US$3 compared to Europe's US$30, there is clearly huge potential for future growth in the region's flexible packaging market.

As countries in the region grow their economies and look to improve transport and distribution infrastructure and encourage inward investment, more and more multinational brand owners are recognising the potential for local packaged food production to supply the region's expanding needs.

Five countries; South Africa, Nigeria, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia currently account for over half of total consumption of converted flexible packaging in the region. The most dynamic market is Nigeria, where flexible packaging demand has grown by around 12% p.a. over the past five years. Other smaller markets such as Tanzania, UAE have also seen above average growth. In contrast to the generally positive picture, flexible packaging sales in Iran and Syria have experienced steep declines due to political, social and economic instability.

So what is driving flexible packaging growth in the region? Some factors identified by the report include:
• A rapidly growing young population and increased urbanisation.
• Increased investment in food production and processing across both regions.
• Significant investments in new flexible packaging converting capacity.
• Increased availability of locally produced and competitively priced base substrates.
• Growth in modern retailing and increased penetration of pre-packed foods.

The region continues to be a net importer of flexible packaging especially into Africa, much being sourced from Europe and increasingly from India and China with the leading European and American owned multinational converters having virtually no local production capability in the region. There is also substantial intra-regional trade, with converters in Saudi Arabia and UAE making use of the films produced as part of downstream petrochemical diversification within those countries. Also Indian entrepreneurs have successfully established thriving converting operations in Nigeria and the UAE.

The region's flexible packaging industry remains very fragmented. Of over 350 converters identified by PCI, the top 20 players account for only around 40% of production.

PCI Films' new report ‘The Middle East & African Flexible Packaging Market to 2018' analyses key drivers, important end-use sectors and the leading converters with an in-depth analyses of sixteen of the most significant countries in terms of flexible packaging production, trade and consumption, providing: economic overview, flexible packaging overview, drivers and future prospects, converter profiles and end-use markets. The new report, which forecasts national and regional demand through to 2018, provides vital background information for converters and investors considering moves within this dynamic and diverse region.

Further details:

 Source: PCI Films




Engineered molding solution

Engineered molding solution
Storopack FOAMplus

Storopack FOAMplusStoropack offers companies fast, engineered foam-in-place packaging: FOAMplus Foam-in-Place foam pads made of polyurethane (PU). The Design Center develops a protective packaging solution using CAD/CAM systems. The design process takes into account the optimum density of the PU foam. The packing laboratory conducts a series of tests in order to exclude any potential flaws. It is also possible to determine whether there may be further possibilities for reducing the amount of material used, for example, by using lower densities and smaller foam pads or cartons.

Following fabrication of the molding tools, the customer is then provided with just-in-time delivery of protective packaging in the desired quantity delivered from one of the North American fabrication centers.

When delivering new protective packaging, Storopack picks up used foam pads and cartons for recycling.

Contract manufacturing of protective padding serves to streamline company operations. Alternatively, customers can also choose to install all the equipment on their own premises, including molding tools and the appropriate FOAMplus machine system.

Storopack Cincinnati


What's the package of the future and why?

What's the package of the future and why?
Flexible packaging

Flexible packagingThe way in which consumers view and interact with packaged products is changing. With a growing focus on convenience and sustainability, traditional pack types are being replaced by innovative and flexible options designed to meet these consumer needs. The flexible packaging market is estimated to be worth $351 billion by 2018, meaning that it is rapidly gaining market share from other sectors such as traditional rigid packaging.

Many exciting new product developments have helped demonstrate to consumers the true potential of flexible packaging. Examples include the Halls "twist-off" Stickpack converted by Sonoco—a flexible package which allows one sweet to be dispensed without losing others—and the Savvy Green Laundry Detergent Pouch, which displays high-end graphics and offers easy dispensation.

So, what sets these products apart from the rigid packaging we are more used to seeing on supermarket shelves?

1. Lightweighting
The bottled water sector is a prime example of a market in which materials have gotten lighter and lighter over time, producing less waste. However, manufacturers have now reached the stage where PET bottles cannot be made much lighter.

Therefore, the next step in this process is to replace plastic bottles with lightweight, flexible pouches. This development has been gaining traction over the years, although widespread usage has not yet occurred. The primary reason for this has been issues with high-speed filling—while PET bottles can be filled at speeds of 1,500 packages per minute, the process of filling pouches falls behind at only 400 packages per minute.

However, some of the newer PET bottle-filling technologies are designed to transport the bottle through the cycle via the neck, a breakthrough which will also allow the introduction of pouches using the same technology. This is forecast to occur as early as 2014, and the use of pouches would allow water companies to reduce their packaging weight by 50 percent.

2. Ease of decorating
Part of the total cost of any rigid package is the label, and these are applied as part of the filling process. Labels are supplied from a different supplier than the bottles, meaning that they often become a bottleneck in the filling process.

With flexible packaging such as pouches, the converting of the pouch generally includes full printing features along with the lamination of the films if necessary. This printing only marginally increases the cost of the pouch and has no effect on the filling process itself. Printing options for flexible packaging are endless, and can be instantaneously changed if required.

Another key decorating feature is the printing of security or brand identity graphics, which is just being developed for flexible packaging. The challenge associated with this new technology is: how can security graphics be included in the packaging design without making it obvious to the potential counterfeiter? Solutions include pigment additives that only appear under certain lighting and inks that disappear and reappear depending on environmental conditions. Such technology simply isn't possible with rigid alternatives.

3. Barrier properties
One of the main advantages of flexible packaging over rigid packaging is the ability of the company to "dial-in" the appropriate barrier for the product and end-use. Many products, such as juices, wines and milk, require a reasonable oxygen barrier. Bottles made from PET, glass or multi-layer paperboard laminates provide a barrier for all products whether it is required or not.

A flexible package can be supplied with barrier properties that can provide anything from moisture and aroma protection to essentially the same barriers as glass. Aluminium foil has been used for many years as the ultimate flexible barrier material, although its properties are compromised by the most recent flexible packaging developments, such as stand-up pouches. When creased in this way the foil can fracture, leading to pinholes which let in oxygen, water and light. To combat this, new flexible materials such as styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) have been developed as foil-replacement. SAN is tough even in thin layers, and recent production methods have improved the flexible properties of this resin.

4. Packaging variation and dispensing
Packages made from flexible plastic films can be made into practically any shape imaginable, and the inclusion of handles, fitments and opening features is quite straightforward. Today's pouches often have advanced dispensing functions such as screw-top caps and laser-scored tear features. Flexible packaging can also be used to enhance rigid packs; an example being shrink labels used for plastic bottles. These labels not only provide attractive decoration features, but also additional levels of barrier protection against oxygen or light.

Other key technical developments include fitments for use with flexible packaging for liquids, with traditional dispensing taps leading to connecting valves, one-way dispensers and pop-up straws. Connecting valves allow consumers to connect a pouch with dishwashing soap directly to the appliance, so the proper amount of detergent is dosed every cycle and no clean-up is required.

5. Larger sizes
As technology has improved, the flexible packaging market size has increased and the ability to produce packaging of ever-larger sizes has become possible. Larger retail flexible packages are now becoming the norm as consumer packaged goods and retail outlets alike take advantage of larger-format packaging. For example, the classic paperboard carton and unprinted flexible liner used for dry cereals is rapidly being replaced with flexible pouches incorporating high-end graphics and easy to reclose features. These packages are typically much larger.

Kraft Food's YesPack for salad dressings and other condiments recently won gold at the Global Packaging Assn. Awards. Incorporating many of the benefits of flexible packaging into a large format package for foodservice liquids, the pouch makes it easy to dispense product, and makes sure every last drop is used. We can expect to see many new types of pouches being introduced for large format liquid packaging as consumers better understand the benefits and converters develop new technologies to their fullest.

Looking for more information about the flexible packaging industry? Smithers Pira offers a range of in-depth market reports containing five and 10 year forecasts of this dynamic industry available to purchase now, such as The Future of Global Flexible Packaging to 2018. For more information on this report, please contact Bill Allen on +44 (0)1372 802086 or at

Source: Smithers Pira


Plastic helps Americans do more with less during holidays

Plastic helps Americans do more with less during holidays
Plastics Make it Possible

Plastics Make it Possible

Americans produce 25 percent more household waste during the holiday season—that's an extra 1.2 million tons of trash per week from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Plastics Make it Possible offers some simple tips on how plastics and recycled plastics can help reduce waste by allowing consumers to do more with less-during the holidays and in the new year.

"The holidays often involve traditions that live on for generations, so why not make it a tradition to seek ways to create less waste?" says Steve Russell, vp of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which sponsors the Plastics Make it Possible initiative. "That's a tradition that can be carried on throughout the year. For example, waste-saving plastic packaging and reusable containers can result in less food and packaging waste from meals and entertaining, during the holidays and year round."

Here are some examples of how consumers can do more with less this holiday season and beyond:

• Recycle More Plastics: Plastics recycling is growing rapidly, so make certain everyone in your household and your guests know what plastics are recycled-both at curbside and at in-store collection bins. Nearly all Americans today have access to plastic bottle recycling, and many communities also collect other plastic containers and even bottle caps and lids. Separately, flexible plastics, such as bags and product wraps, can be returned to many grocery and retail stores for recycling. Check with your municipality or type in your zip code at to find out what's collected and where in your community.

Recycling results in less plastic in the garbage bin—and these plastics can live a new life as holiday gifts, clothing, cooking tools, garden planters, building products, packaging or even carpeting for your home. Click here for tips and info on recycling more plastics. 

• Look for Recycled Plastic Kitchen Tools: Recycled plastics from beverage bottles, yogurt containers, and milk jugs are used to make a variety of handy kitchen tools, such as cutting boards, mixing bowls, cooking utensils and storage containers. Seeking out products made with recycled plastics helps create another use for plastic packaging and keeps valuable materials out of landfills. 

• Reduce Food Waste: Choosing the right packaging is really an investment in protecting our food-up to 10 times more resources are used to make and distribute food than to make the packaging that protects it. Reusable, airtight and shatter-resistant plastic containers help keep holiday leftovers fresh in the refrigerator after those big meals, which helps reduce food waste. And freezing leftovers in various sized plastic containers lets you enjoy your favorite holiday dishes throughout the winter in pre-portioned servings. Plastic containers labeled for use in both the freezer and microwave means you can freeze, heat and even serve food from the same container, which saves time and energy. And if you end up with more food than you need after your holiday meals, lightweight plastic zipper bags are great for sending leftovers home with guests so food doesn't go to waste. These bags can be washed and reused and eventually recycled (if clean and dry) with plastic bags and wraps at participating stores.

• Look for Innovative Packaging: Seek out meals, entrees, side dishes, snacks and ingredients packaged in lightweight, re-sealable plastic pouches that allow you to use only the amount you need and then store the rest for later, which leads to less food waste. And that lightweight plastic packaging also saves on fuel needed to transport food and drinks to grocery stores, which results in less energy use and fewer truck engine emissions. A recent study found that using alternatives to six widely used types of plastic packaging would require 80 percent more energy demand-on an annual basis, that's equivalent to the energy from more than 3,800 oil supertankers. 

Source: Plastics Make it Possible


Easy-peel/reseal technology

Easy-peel/reseal technology
Easy-peel/reseal technology

Easy-peel/reseal technology

Peel-reseal packaging has been available previously only in rigid or semi-rigid packaging formats. SmartTack Flexible EZ Peel Reseal is the first peel-reseal technology that can be used with a package made entirely of flexible packaging. This next-generation formulation adds easy opening and reclosability to flexible thermoforming films as low as 3-mil thick without traditional zippers or sliders. With two to three times the retack strength of previous generations of commercially available peel-reseal systems, SmartTack Flexible helps keep products such as cheese fresh until it is consumed. This development won the top innovation award in the Packaging Category at the Intl. Dairy Foods Assn.'s Innovation Awards.

Curwood, 800-544-4672


Black Lab gains longer shelf life with advanced industrial bags

Black Lab gains longer shelf life with advanced industrial bags
Black Labs valve bag

Black Labs valve bagBlack Lab, LLC, a custom blender of granular and aggregate materials for industrial applications, has significantly extended the shelf life of its products while safeguarding product quality by converting to an advanced valve bag packaging solution.

Based in Chardon, OH, Black Lab manufactures a popular brand of flooring compounds for use in commercial applications. It also produces customized blends of dry granular materials for building and construction professionals, including mortars, grouts, urethanes, concretes and other cements. These are formulated according to customer specifications.

Maintaining product quality

Black Lab's packaging materials must protect the quality and consistency of products from the elements and other ambient conditions. Early in 2010, problems arose involving several packages of Black Lab's flooring blends, which at the time was packaged in standard valve bags with slit or perforated polyethylene liners. Instead of maintaining a uniform consistency, the bags' contents formed into small clumps, especially at the valve end. As a result, a substantial amount of flooring compounds had to be returned and discarded.

"Contractors using the flooring blends are accustomed to a granular, highly consistent product that is easy to mix and apply," says Daryl Deckard, Black Lab general manager. "The flooring blends are designed to create a flat, even flooring surface. Any clumping of the blends results in uneven application and poor product performance."

Finding a solution

Black Lab officials traced the clumping problem to ambient moisture seeping into the standard bags at the valve end. To prevent a recurrence, they consulted with Mondi Americas, a company that designs and manufactures industrial and consumer packaging products, and were informed about an innovation already in development--the Airstream valve bag.

Airstream valve bags are equipped with a non-perforated barrier foil and patented de-aeration system featuring an interrupted longitudinal seam outlet. The system significantly improves air permeability without adversely impacting the bag's moisture protection function. Air enters the valve bag during filling forms a stream that is effectively channeled and allowed to escape quickly through the seam outlet. The bags are tailored to meet the requirements of fine powder filling and high-end filling lines.

Mondi Americas supplied Airstream samples to Black Lab for testing. After a successful trial, Black Lab converted its flooring blends' packaging entirely to Airstream valve bags.

"The results of the changeover were amazing," notes Black Lab's Deckard. "We saw an immediate end to any clumping problems due to ambient moisture. The new bags were highly effective in protecting product consistency."

Added shelf life

After the new packaging solution proved successful in its first application, Black Lab decided to expand use of Airstream bags to the company's custom-blended aggregates, including grouts, mortars and sand blends. The company began gradually to replace its inventory of older standard valve bags.

The shelf life of Black Lab products surged due to the packaging change. Previously, overall shelf life ranged from nine to 12 months depending on the product type. After the change, it increased to an average of 12 to 18 months.

"An additional four to six months or more of shelf life is a huge advantage for our customers," says Deckard. "They want our products to be stored and ready for use when needed. Some of our aggregate materials cost as much as $80 per bag. If a bag of aggregate only lasts six months, that can mean a loss for our customers."

Smoother packaging operations

The Airstream valve bags are integrated into packaging lines at Black Lab's Chardon facility, and at sites in Serena, IL, and Fresno, TX. On these lines, Taylor Products-brand bulk fillers from Magnum Systems are used in conjunction with mixing machines and weighing scales. The fillers employ air to propel aggregate materials through the mixing machines and into the bags.

Black Lab's Deckard observes that the Airstream solution has resulted in an improved packaging operation. Because the bags allow air to quickly escape during filling, they promote smoother filling and packing. They also contribute to more accurate weighing of materials.

Black Lab uses approximately 750,000 Airstream valve bags annually, in different sizes including 25-lb., 50-lb. and 60-lb. The bags are manufactured at Mondi Americas' production facility in Romeoville, IL. Three production lines are currently in operation there, with a fourth line scheduled to go online soon to meet increased demand.

The Black Lab bags are preprinted in two colors using flexographic printing equipment. They carry company logos, contents, mixing instructions, warning labels and similar information. The flexographic process used is capable of printing packaging in up to six colors.

Mondi Americas


Braskem to partner with Siluria on natural gas conversion

Braskem to partner with Siluria on natural gas conversion
Braskem and Siluria partnership

Braskem and Siluria partnership

Siluria Technologies, a pioneer in the commercial production of fuels and chemicals made from clean, abundant natural gas, and Braskem, a leading producer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas, have formed a broad-ranging collaboration around the deployment of Siluria's proprietary oxidative coupling of methane, or "OCM" technology for the direct conversion of methane in natural gas to ethylene.

Under the collaboration, Siluria and Braskem will jointly explore commercial deployment of Siluria's technology for supplying ethylene to Braskem. In particular, the two companies will conduct a joint feasibility study to identify commercial deployment opportunities of Siluria's technology at Braskem's ethylene consuming plants. The collaboration also provides for certain non-exclusive technology license options for the world-scale deployment of Siluria's technology by Braskem, as well as opportunities for Braskem to be a purchaser of ethylene produced from future Siluria plants, and rights for Siluria ownership participation in Braskem commercial projects using OCM technology. The collaboration is in conjunction with the concurrently announced hosting of Siluria's OCM Demonstration plant by Braskem.

We are very pleased to be working with a world leader in olefins and derivatives manufacturing in Braskem," said Ed Dineen, CEO of Siluria. "Their industry expertise, substantial footprint and aspirations for growth make them an ideal first partner in Siluria's multiple-partner strategy to deploy our technology across the chemicals, fuels and natural gas processing industries."

"Braskem is pursuing the growth of our business in the Americas and globally," said Fernando Musa, CEO, Braskem America. "We believe the Siluria technology can play an important part in our growth strategy as well as potentially strengthening our current asset base."

Siluria's OCM technology provides a novel process for the conversion of methane from natural gas to ethylene and liquid fuels. The flexibility of the technology provides multiple high-value opportunities for the deployment across multiple industry segments. Siluria plans to deploy its OCM technology in a range of commercial settings, including existing ethylene producing plants, at ethylene consuming sites, upstream gas monetization, natural gas midstream plants, as well as world-scale grass roots deployments. The technology's use of commonly available natural gas as feedstock, compatibility with existing industry operations, as well as its relative simplicity and energy efficiency provide very attractive economics compared to existing ethylene production processes, like ethane and naphtha cracking. Additionally, the company's Ethylene-To-Liquids (ETL) technology packages are designed to provide substantial capital, operating cost and product slate advantages over alternative gas-to-liquids technologies.

Siluria's Demonstration plant is expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2014.

Source: Braskem


Worldwide packaged water market shows still waters run swift

Worldwide packaged water market shows still waters run swift
PET water bottles

PET water bottlesThe carbonate water sector lost its leading position in the market for packaged water given swift growth of the still packaged water sector in the last ten years. In 2001, the carbonate water segment accounted for over 38 percent of the total market share, while ten years later its share was only slightly above 17 percent.

In Europe, the still water sector has a share of around 56.5 percent, with Italy, Germany, Belgium and Portugal being the leaders in terms of per capita consumption of packaged water.

Country-wise, the U.K. is set to demonstrate significant demand growth in the years to come. Local sales are expected to improve by approximately 30 percent by end-2015.

U.S. sales of packaged water reached a record high in 2011 and were estimated at above 9 billion gallons, up by 4 percent year on year.

New market research report Global Packaged Water Report 2012 developed by Canadean provides and extensive guide to the world market for packaged water. The study offers a detailed overview of the market, its trends, drivers and barriers. The report examines the market at different geographical levels; comprises valuable data on consumption volumes, market segmentation, market shares of top players, new products and distribution channels. Future market projections are also found in the 659-page research study, published December 2012 and priced at U.S. $15,900.



Coca-Cola backs packaging recycling grant program

Coca-Cola backs packaging recycling grant program
Coke recycling bin

Coke recycling binKeep America Beautiful (KAB) and The Coca-Cola Foundation today announced a call for applications for the 2013 Coca-Cola/KAB Recycling Bin Grant Program, a program designed to expand and support recycling in communities across America. The Coca-Cola/KAB Recycling Bin Grant Program is funded through a $300,000 grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company.

Since 2010, more than 29,000 recycling bins have been distributed through the Coca-Cola/KAB Recycling Bin Grant Program. Three-hundred organizations have received bin grants and 4.3 million people have been reached through this program.

"Providing much-needed public space recycling infrastructure is a key component of a holistic approach to increasing the nation's recycling rates," said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. "The Coca-Cola Company's commitment to providing more local organizations with such a significant number of recycling bins is truly refreshing. We applaud them for being such a steadfast supporter of our recycling programs."

"We are pleased to support Keep America Beautiful and look forward to the continued community impact of this initiative," said Lori George Billingsley, Vice President, Community Relations, Coca-Cola Refreshments. "Studies have shown that recycling bins placed in convenient locations significantly improve the amount of material recycled. Through this program, thousands of bins will be placed where people live, work and play."

Grant applications will be available online through March 4, 2013. The bin grant program will include college and university focused grants as well as the traditional public space recycling bin grants. All interested parties can visit here to apply.

Eligible recipients for the public space grant include government agencies, civic organizations, schools and nonprofit groups. All colleges and universities will be eligible for the college-specific grant. Successful applicants will be notified by Keep America Beautiful in April 2013 to offer guidance, confirm their needs and solidify bin selection. Suppliers will deliver bins directly to the recipients throughout the summer.

Source: Keep America Beautiful

Self-heating packaging market heats up

Self-heating packaging market heats up

HeatGenieHeatGenie has announced plans to expand and accelerate efforts to bring HeatGenie's patent pending self-heating technology to the market. The company has signed an addendum to their joint development agreement with packaging products supplier Crown Holdings Inc. for beverage and sippable soup packaging.

Development to date has focused on can/heater technology and the interaction of the heater with the can and its contents. The addendum to the joint development agreement expands the scope to include collaborative efforts necessary to bring this innovative technology to market including sampling, manufacturing equipment engineering, supply chain development and scaling activities to commercialize with strategic brand partners. HeatGenie's heater manufacturing partner will participate in commercialization activities going forward.

The HeatGenie self-heating technology heats beverages within their package. To activate, consumers simply press a button at the bottom of the package. The common, food-safe material within the heater provides high content energy and heat at a controlled rate. The end result is a cup of hot coffee or soup safely heated in the can in less than two minutes.

"We are pleased with development to date of the HeatGenie/Crown integrated self-heating packaging solution," says Daniel Abramowicz, evp of technology and regulatory affairs at Crown. "We've looked at many different self-heating technologies and continue to think the HeatGenie technology's advantages (faster heating time and more favorable product / heater ratio) position it for commercial success."

The expanded agreement also includes increased joint business development activities. According to HeatGenie's CEO Brendan Coffey, "We're excited to be entering into this new phase of development with Crown and look forward to having product in the market this year."

Source: HeatGenie