Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Report: North American Packaging Growth Led By Plastics

According to a Packaging Digest article, a new report from research firm Smithers Pira shows the North American packaging market has rebounded to $169.1 billion in 2011, up from $164.6 billion in 2007, the year before the recession began. Market revenues that fell to $150 billion in 2009 have increased modestly in each of the following years. The material leading the charge is plastics.

The report, The Future of Packaging in North America to 2017, goes on to say, “The anticipated market value for 2012 is $173.4 billion—an increase of 2.6 % over the prior year—and for 2017 that forecast should grow by 1.4 % above inflation levels to $186 billion. Despite this growth, Packaging Digest says, “…the region remains slightly cautious because of market and political uncertainty, as well as fluctuating raw materials prices.”Plastic bottles

The Packaging Digest article then has a sub-headline that says: “Packaging materials market share led

by paperboard.” The text continues: “In North America in 2011, the largest share of packaging consumption was paperboard packaging, at 33.7 % of the total. Rigid plastic followed at 20 %, flexible packaging at 19.9 % and metal packaging at 17.7 %. … For the first time, rigid plastic packaging surpassed flexibles by growing 8.4 % in 2011, compared with flexible packaging at a 7.3 % rate…Flexible and rigid

plastic packaging is forecast to grow 2.3 % and 2.6 % per annum, respectively, accounting for 20.7 % and 21.5 % of the total North American market by 2017.”

Packaging materials market shares are sometimes reported this way, however since the numbers are specifically about packaging materials, the shares should be stated as plastics 39.9%, paperboard 33.7%, and metal 17.7%. Plastics, whether flexible or rigid, are plastics, and with a nearly 40% share of the packaging market plastics are the sector’s leading material.

A big reason why plastics are dominant in packaging and many other sectors is that they can meet widely varying requirements, for example rigidity and flexibility. They can be semi-rigid or slightly flexible, rigid enough to be an airplane fuselage or flexible enough to wrap a sandwich. Plastics other performance properties offer similarly wide ranges of choice, and plastics are economical, easy to design with, recyclable, and more. It’s a winning combination of advantages.Plastic tubs

Though this “In The Hopper” blogsite belongs to SPI: The Plastics Trade Association, that’s not the main reason for making the preceding point. The numbers as given say plastics are the number one material in packaging. And who better than SPI to point out why plastics are the materials of choice for so many tasks?

Back to the report: Packaging Digest says the Smithers Pira report also says industrial packaging such as foodservice and bulk containers, which experienced a steep decline in 2009, will have a growth rate close to that of consumer packaging from 2012 to 2017. The single fastest growing segment, according to the report, will be consumer healthcare packaging: 2.9% per annum over the next five years.

The report offers an overview of the packaging industry in Canada, the USA and Mexico, historical and current market sizes and trends, and forecasts demand from now to 2017, with more than 400 tables and figures to make it clear. Full information is on the Smithers Pira website.

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