US demand for protective packaging is forecast to rise 6.2% pa to US$5.2 bln in 2014, reflecting an upswing in manufacturing output as the US economy recovers from The Great Recession, says a new study by Freedonia Group. Advances will be boosted by the continued proliferation of Internet shopping. Value gains will also be helped by greater interest in environmentally friendly products that tend to be more costly than their conventional counterparts. However, the importance of price in the purchasing decisions of most packaging users will moderate gains for green products to some extent.
Through 2014, the fastest growth is expected for air pillows, foamed plastics and bubble packaging, with rapid advances also anticipated in the smaller molded pulp segment. Demand for air pillows will climb 8.7% pa to US$395 mln in 2014, the result of strong growth in Internet shopping, advantages over other materials in terms of cost and material use, and consumer preference for the product over other materials such as loose-fill. Foamed plastic protective packaging is expected to rebound substantially from a depressed base in 2009. Gains will reflect a significantly improved outlook in the manufacturing sector, especially durable goods, which represent the majority of demand for molded foam, foam-in-place and polyolefin roll protective packaging. Nonetheless, longer-term prospects for foams will be moderated by further shifting of manufacturing to nations that offer lower-cost production. Demand for bubble packaging will be aided by favorable outlooks for manufacturing activity and electronic shopping. Molded pulp will experience some of the fastest gains (albeit from a small base) as a result of heightened interest in environmentally friendly packaging coupled with more stable pricing than petroleum-based plastics. More moderate gains are anticipated for paperboard protectors, paper fill, dunnage bags and loose-fill, the result of mature applications and/or competition from faster growing product types. Nonetheless, prospects for paper fill and biodegradable loose-fill will be helped by growing interest in environmentally friendly packaging.