World demand for protective packaging is forecast to increase 6.3% pa to US$24.5 bln in 2016, as per Freedonia. Factors contributing to rising demand include an acceleration in global manufacturing output, increased consumer spending on packaged goods worldwide and demographic trends such as increasing urban populations, as urban residents tend to consume more packaged goods than their rural counterparts. The increasing popularity of Internet shopping in both developed and developing regions will fuel demand for protective packaging for the shipping of relatively small items. These trends will further boost demand for cost effective packaging that protects goods from any damaging effects of shipping and handling throughout the supply chain. Foamed plastics will continue to account for the largest share of world protective packaging demand.
Growth in this segment will be aided by foamed plastics’ light weight and superior cushioning features, along with their versatility in conforming to virtually any shape to enhance protection. However, demand will be impacted by alternatives with more favorable environmental profiles, including bioplastic and non plastic packaging products. Demand for protective mailers will be fueled by the rise in online shopping, which will stimulate increased requirements for economical, lightweight, pre-constructed protective packaging for the shipping of a wide variety of relatively small objects. Insulated shipping containers will be one of the fastest growing protective packaging product types as a result of increasing cold chain requirements in the pharmaceutical and life science industries, as well as rising online sales of perishable foods. Pharmaceutical uses will be driven by rapidly expanding markets for biotechnology drugs and vaccines, which are often temperature-sensitive. Demand for air pillows will see rapid growth as well, as they are gaining market share over loose fill due to their relatively low cost, versatility, and cleanliness during unpacking. Conversely, more moderate gains are anticipated for paperboard protectors, paper fill, and dunnage bags, due to intense competition and mature applications.
The world’s developing regions will exhibit the fastest advances in protective packaging demand. Population growth, greater urbanization, industrialization trends, and increases in international trade will support gains in these regions’ generally underdeveloped packaging sectors. In particular, the Asia Pacific region will post the fastest growth and remain the largest market due to its important manufacturing sector (by far the biggest in the world). Overall, some of the highest growth rates are expected in India, China and Indonesia, with Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Mexico and South Africa also expected to exhibit healthy growth. China alone will account for 31% of global value gains in protective packaging demand through 2016.