Demand for converted flexible packaging in the US is expected to exceed $18 billion in 2015. Gains will reflect a rebound in the US economy and will be supported by cost, performance and source reduction advantages over most rigid packaging formats. Rising demand for convenience-oriented and other further processed food items, which often use more costly higher barrier packaging materials for extended shelf life, will also propel growth. Converted flexible packaging’s source reduction capabilities will be increasingly advantageous in light of initiatives by major retailers and packaged goods firms to evaluate the packaging used by their suppliers in terms of eco-friendliness and cost reduction.
Pouches to exhibit above average annual gains
Above-average gains for pouches will be driven by continued conversions to standup pouches and healthy gains for flat pouches in a number of markets. Demand will also benefit from the presence of convenience features (e.g., zippers,spouts) and the emergence of new applications and product types, such as flat-bottomed, side-gusseted pouches and hybrid pouch/folding carton products. In addition, stick pouches will experience rapid growth in single-portion packaging uses based on advantages of product differentiation and portability. Growth for bags will increase at a faster pace than in the 2005-2010 period based on an expected recovery in the US economy from the 2007-2009 recession.
However, gains will lag the overall converted flexible packaging average due to the maturity of many applications along with competition from pouches and rigid packaging. While demand for paper bags and sacks will be constrained by performance limitations relative to plastic bags and sacks, growing efforts by packaged goods firms to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability will lead to some degree of renewed interest in paper, which possesses such qualities as renewability, recyclability and compostability.
Demographic, eating trends to benefit food applications
Above-average growth in food applications will be driven by the need for more costly films for extended shelf life along with demographic trends such as increased numbers of single-person and empty nest households and households where all adults work. These trends will boost demand for food in smaller package sizes and more convenient foods designed to reduce food preparation time. Trends toward healthier eating and increased “on-the-run” eating will spurfood manufacturers to expand their offerings of products, especially snacks,baked goods and beverages, in singleserving packages. Such products require more packaging than standard packages of similar items. The fastest growing food packaging markets for converted flexible packaging will be beverage, meat and related products, and snack food uses. In nonfood applications, advances will be led by above-average gains in the pharmaceutical and medical product markets based on heightened barrier requirements, cost and convenience advantages, and adaptability to gowing unit-of-use requirements. Moreover,benefits including product visibility,pilferage protection and good barrier properties will support continued demand in a broad range of uses.