The growing popularity of single-serving packages such as plastic bottles, cups and containers in a wider range of food applications; will help to drive global demand for rigid plastic packaging to 22% from US$129.2 bln in 2009 to US$158.3 bln in 2014, as per a study by Pira International. Rigid plastic packaging will also benefit from manufactures’ increasing preference for this material in place of traditional packaging such as paperboard, metal and glass containers. The popularity of plastic containers will reflect performance advantages over glass, metal and paperboard plus improved resin and processing technologies, according to the report’s authors. But rigid packaging is expected to face growing competition from flexible pouch packaging in various food and beverage applications. This will arise from cost and performance advantages that will allow these products to challenge rigid packaging. Bags and pouches are also likely to gain in popularity as brand-owners focus on promoting the environment-friendliness of their packaging materials.
The key challenges faced by the rigid packaging sector this year include- lower end-user demand due to global recession; rising polymer prices which are squeezing profit margins as buyers resist passing on the full cost and rising energy and transport costs; increased bargaining power of major suppliers and buyers as players grow bigger due to merger and acquisition; tough recycling targets putting further pressure on packaging suppliers to collect and recycle waste packaging; and growing public pressure to reduce excessive packaging as consumers become more aware of how packaging impacts the environment.
Rigid plastic packaging suppliers will struggle to grow market share in well-established markets. They will have to focus more on developing profitable niche applications, continuing to improve the performance properties of rigid plastics to meet more demanding specifications, and developing more environment-friendly pack solutions. They should also place more emphasis on the developing markets for rigid plastic packaging in Asia, central and eastern Europe and South America.