Growth of the packaging industry in Japan is driven by growth in exports and a growing food processing, beverages and luxury products market. In 2010, the Japanese packaging market was valued at US$62.4 bln, with a CAGR of 5.67% during the review period (2006-2010), as per ICD Research. The market saw a decline in growth rate during 2008-10 due to the decline in export demand and also a decline in demand from domestic end use industries. The market is expected to be valued at US$77 bln by 2015, growing at a CAGR of 7.76% during the forecast period (2011-2015). There has been a growth in sales of packaged or consumer ready food as a result of demographic changes, particularly with more women entering the work force, and an increasing demand for healthy food such as nutrient enriched, lower cholesterol and additive free products. The packaging industry is adapting to meet the demand for new environmentally conscious packaging solutions.
The industry is undergoing a phase where rising raw material costs are hitting the profit margin of packaging manufacturers. The paper and board segment, which relies heavily on imports for its requirement of raw materials, has recently seen a rise in input costs due to strict environmental laws and a rise in the cost of fuel. Similarly, a rise in the raw material costs of steel and aluminum has affected the profit margins and production costs of the metal packaging category. This has forced Japanese packaging manufacturers to put a greater emphasis on recycling to reduce the impact of increased raw material costs and to project them as environmentally friendly. There are a number of foreign companies present in the packaging industry in the country though it is dominated by domestic packaging manufacturers. The competitive landscape varies significantly across packaging material segments. While paper packaging is dominated by few large companies, the rigid plastic packaging and flexible packaging categories are moderately fragmented. The metal packaging category has attracted the most number of foreign competitors. The demographic proportion of Japan's elderly population is expected to reach 25% by 2020, the highest growth rate in the world. This is expected to create new opportunities for health oriented food products. The elderly enjoy a high disposable income, turning them into a lucrative target. This is expected to drive the demand for health foods and healthcare and pharmaceutical products and by extension their packaging. Japan offers an attractive market and extensive business opportunities to companies in various industries including packaging. The country's economy is changing as a result of a rapid aging population with low birth rate, growing demand for health products and an interest in the recycling of packaging materials.