Agricultural films are protective films placed over soil, covered over greenhouses and wrapped around fodder. Agricultural films help in reducing soil erosion, provides nutrients to the soil and increases soil temperature. It also suppresses the growth of weeds, supports seed germination and protects against UV rays. On the basis of application, agricultural films can be classified as mulch film, silage film and greenhouse film. In 2012, mulching films accounted for nearly 40% of the global demand. Silage films are used especially in pastures to retain moisture, ease of handling and transportation to store animal fodder. Greenhouse films are widely used in Europe and the Middle East especially in horticulture and floriculture projects to mitigate the effects of the harsh climatic conditions in the region. Agricultural films are mostly manufactured using polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and ethylene vinyl alcohol polymer (EVOH) among other materials. Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and low density polyethylene (LDPE) dominated the overall agricultural films market. The capacity additions of PE in the Middle East and Asia Pacific has led to price erosion in the past few years.
Transparency Market Research predicts the global consumption for agricultural films to grow at CAGR of 5.7%, for the period 2013-2019. Growing food demand coupled with decreasing arable land is expected to drive the market. These films help in increasing the agricultural productivity in water scare areas and in harsh climatic conditions. In developed countries, vast arable lands are engaged in producing bio fuel crops which further affects the total production of food crops. In this case, agricultural films help in increasing the crop output per hectare and in turn help in meeting the ever-increasing food demand. Agricultural films are expensive over other conventional methods; however, the crop output is much higher and hence a profitable farming method for farmers. Agricultural film is expected to be an important tool in the modern farming techniques as the global farming standards are increasing in the coming years. Thus, the demand for agricultural films is expected to grow in the next six years due to increasing demand for food and biofuels and decreasing availability of arable land.
The agricultural films market is expected to grow at a decent pace during the coming decade driven by its increasing demand from the Asia-Pacific region. The increased demand for controlled agricultural activities drives the market for agricultural films. Agricultural films are primarily made of polyethylene. The increasing disposable of the consumers together with the growing demand for high-quality crops is driving the market for agricultural films. The agricultural films market is projected to register a CAGR of 6.5% between 2015 and 2020 to reach US$11,743.7 mln, by 2020, as per Markets and Markets. Asia-Pacific holds a significant market share in the agricultural films market. China leads the Asian market in terms of demand for agricultural films. Asia-Pacific is thus expected to maintain its dominance in the global market owing to the steady growth in China and India. The market for agricultural films is experiencing slow growth in Europe and North America due to maturing of these economies. The European market is saturated due to decreasing arable land and the stringent regulation that forbid the use of plastic films in agriculture. However, the increasing demand for biodegradable films from these regions is expected to drive the market. The threat of substitute products is low in the agricultural films market. This is primarily due to the multi-utility of the plastic films and high cost of glass.
The LLDPE market holds the maximum market share, in terms of types. LLDPE is the most preferred type due to its properties of high puncture resistance and high tensile strength. It is replacing conventional LDPE in many areas, primarily due to the combination of favorable production cost and product performance.
The global agricultural films market is expected to reach US$10.53 bln by 2020, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. The need to increase productivity to fulfill burgeoning demand of high-quality food crops for growing population is expected to augment agricultural film industry growth over the forecast period. Stringent government regulations associated with disposal of synthetic polymer films are expected to hinder market growth over the next few years. Biodegradable film manufacturers are expected to have significant opportunities in the next five years.
Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) was the dominant raw material segment and accounted for over 55% of the global market volume in 2013. LLDPE is widely used owing to its flexibility and moisture-blocking properties. The raw material segment is expected to grow at a fastest CAGR of 6.2% from 2014 to 2020. Commercialization of biodegradable polymers is estimated to provide lucrative opportunities for industry participants over the forecast period. Further key findings from the report suggest:
* Global agricultural films market demand was 4,651.7 kilo tons in 2013 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6% from 2014 to 2020
* Mulching was the largest application of agricultural films and accounted for over 40% of the total market in 2013. Geographically, the consumption of film type varies according to different climatic conditions, crop patterns, and demand for crops.
* Greenhouse films are predominantly used in Asia and the Middle East due to an increasing demand for ornamental crops. Greenhouse is expected to emerge as the fastest growing application segment owing to high level of commercialization, particularly in China and Europe.
* China was the dominant regional market in terms of production and consumption. The region accounted for over 60% of global demand in 2013 and is expected to witness fastest growth in terms of market penetration. Increasing food demand coupled with large exports to other Asian and European countries may result in high demand of agricultural films in the nation.
* Major industry participants have been investing heavily on R&D for commercializing biodegradable and longer shelf life products. Companies have been collaborating with biotechnology firms in order to ensure sustainable product innovation in the near future. Key players operating in global agricultural films market include BASF, ExxonMobil, BP Industries (BPI), Trioplast, Armando Alvarez, Ab Rani PlastOy, Group Barbier, Britton Group, Kuraray, and Novamont.