|Demand for stretch and shrink film in the U.S. is forecast to rise 3.3% pa to US$2.4 bln in 2015, according to The Freedonia Group. This increase will be driven by accelerating demand for product packaging and for the bundling and protection of goods during warehousing and distribution, as well as competitive advantages over other packaging materials. Other drivers of stretch and shrink film will be resin and machinery improvement, and opportunities in areas such as stretch hoods and stretch labels and sleeves. Stretch film demand will increase 2.8% annually through 2015 to US$1.4 bln, accounting for almost three-fifths of the total. The fastest growth is anticipated for stretch hoods due to their cost advantages, high throughput rates and excellent load integrity and weather protection. Demand for shrink film will grow 4.2% annually to US$970 mln in 2015, with advances being driven by shrink film's high clarity and excellent print capabilities, which enhances product marketability. In particular, growth will be helped by increased use in labels. Shrink film offers better seal and moisture barrier than stretch film, and is well-suited for covering heavy, non-uniform pallet loads, due to its higher puncture resistance and ability to help maintain load integrity. Demand for stretch and shrink film resins is expected to rise 2.5% pa to 1.9 billion lb in 2015. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) is the leading stretch and shrink film resin. LDPE resins consist of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) as well as conventional LDPE. LLDPE's high impact strength, elongation properties and down gauging potential; and conventional LDPE's greater clarity and drawdown characteristics lead to their dominant usage. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) stretch and shrink film demand will remain flat through 2015 in volume terms, though value gains will be based on price increases. Shrink sleeve labels for foods and beverages will be the primary area of opportunity for PVC, with other areas declining as a result of PVC's poor environmental image and competition from LDPE films. Other smaller stretch and shrink film resins include polypropylene, high density polyethylene, polyester (e.g., polyethylene terephthalate) and biodegradable resins.
The storage and distribution market for stretch and shrink film will post above average increases through 2015, when these uses will account for over half of total demand. Advances will be stimulated by growing retail trade and industrial activity, as well as export markets. The primary growth driver will be pallet wrap, due to its competitive advantages over strapping, tape and other bulk unitization methods. Product packaging demand gains will be stimulated by growing retail trade and concomitant needs for product packaging for food, beverage, consumer and other items. Stretch and shrink film advantages include cost effectiveness and source reduction capabilities compared to corrugated boxes and other packaging.