Europes’ converted flexible packaging industry worth €20 bln

Converted flexible packaging represents one of the most complex and dynamic sectors of the European packaging industry and in a new report from Applied Market Information Ltd (AMI) has, for the first time , detailed the activities of 50 of the largest companies involved. From this analysis AMI estimates that the converted flexible packaging industry in Europe consumed nearly 3.6 mln tons of substrates in 2009 and the business was worth approximately €20 bln. This valuation may surprise some observers of the industry as substantially lower figures have more typically been quoted in the past. However, AMI believes this to be an under-estimate and the value of the industry is significantly higher. The converted flexible packaging industry covers flexible packaging materials which have undergone some kind of converting process such as printing, lamination, coating and extrusion. It involves the use of a wide variety of substrates including plastic films, paper and foil that can be used in various weights gauges and widths and in various combinations. Given the complexity of materials and combinations that can be used and the variety of converting processes that can be applied, the industry involves a wide range of companies and business models. Although traditionally a highly fragmented industry, a number of major regional and global groups have emerged in Europe to meet the needs of the global brand owners. Rising costs, growing environmental pressures and lower economic growth has further increased the competitive intensity which is driving corporate restructuring and strategic change among the leading players. There is an increasing focus on the emerging markets of Eastern Europe and Russia along with moves to shift production to higher value products within Western operations. The most significant change of course has been the acquisition of Alcan Packaging’s Food Europe, Food Asia, Global Pharmaceuticals and Global Tobacco businesses by Amcor completed earlier this year. Alcan and Amcor were already the two largest players in Europe based on sales and the combination of the two has created a global business with sales of over US$4 bln employing 14,000. A substantial amount of this resides in Europe and the combined business operates over 50 flexible packaging converting plants in 17 countries (including Turkey and Russia). The enlargement of Amcor has created a flexible packaging converter more than twice the size of the next largest company both in terms of the value of the business and the volume of substrates used. It has further served to accentuate the division between the global majors and the rest of the market. The 50 companies covered in this report include other major global groups such as Bemis, Mondi and Sealed Air, along with significant regional players in Central and Eastern Europe and Turkey and the major national companies in Western Europe. Of the 50 companies covered AMI calculates they accounted for just over 40% of the converted flexible packaging market on a volume basis and 50% by value.
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