Flexible Packaging Market 2021 Players Targeting Application to Boost Growth by 2027

In 2020, the global flexible packaging market size was USD 157.3 billion and expected to grow USD 202.5 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2021 to 2027. Flexible packaging is used in hot drinks, beauty, personal care products, and home care products. The smaller pack segment is witnessing innovations as there is increased demand for mini and micro packs. The products comprise sachets, bags, pillow packs, and envelopes. Trends have changed, and packaging today is seen as an integral part of a product. Efforts are being made toward making it sustainable for the environment. Increased complexity and more number of stocks keeping units (SKUs) demand unique packaging for various products.

Packaging is an important aspect of the supply chain. Its functions vary based on the packaging product and packaging type. Packaging can be divided into three types – primary, secondary, and tertiary. While primary packaging is directly in contact with the product to be packaged, secondary and tertiary packaging act as a protective barrier during transit. Wrapping, storing, carrying, and selling are the major functions of packaging materials. The flexible packaging market uses flexible plastics, paper, and foil as standalone products or in combination to form easily yielding packaging products. Flexible plastics are gaining market share over paper and foil, particularly foil, as the cost is comparatively higher and poses challenges during recycling.

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Apart from the factors listed above, from a seller perspective, the demand from buyers and end-customers also increases the need for flexible packaging products. In 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is increased demand for smaller and single-serve packaging. Flexible packaging also offers easy-to-use caps and closure functionalities, the absence of which was previously one of the reasons for slower adoption rates.

COVID-19 Impact on the Global Flexible Packaging

Almost 70% of the demand for flexible packaging arises from the food and beverage industry. Various segments of the food industry witness demand throughout the year. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the industry witnessed supply chain disruptions due to the voluntary shutdown of factories or authorities enforcing lockdown. In certain cases, manpower at supplier locations was reduced to ensure that a certain amount of work was carried out to deliver smaller batches of materials required by the converter.

The demand for food items, beverages, and healthcare products has equaled out with regular spikes and lulls in demand. We have considered this while arriving at the market numbers globally. High prices of premium food and beverage products are expected to be majorly impacted, while the reasonably priced essential products are expected to witness higher demand. In Italy, the post-COVID-19 situation prompted packaging vendors to reassess and revisit their inventories. Packaging vendors have re-strategized their supply chain by reducing dependence on cross-border suppliers due to the fear of trade route blockade.

Global Flexible Packaging Market Dynamics

Drivers: Increasing Demand from Healthcare Industry

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the major end-users of flexible packaging products. The pharmaceutical industry is growing at an annual rate of over 4.4% and is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2026. The major packaging products used include blistering plastic films, aluminum foils, and pouches. The wider adoption of blister packaging, replacing the glass and rigid plastics, has resulted in the higher usage of lidding films. Plastic and paper films are widely used in blister packs, followed by aluminum foil, mainly because of the higher costs associated with aluminum foil. A combination of all three or any two is also adopted based on the product to be packaged.

The cost of production in blister packaging is 30% lesser compared to other packaging formats. The new and advanced blister packaging machinery can pack anywhere between 900 to 1,300 blister packs in a minute. Zero dispensing errors and an increase in unit-dose formats are increasing the adoption of blister packaging. Anticounterfeiting using barcodes is also an advantage for manufactures using blister packs. The blister packaging market was valued at over $15 billion in 2020. Its share in the global pharmaceutical packaging sector was 15%–18% in 2020. Since the blister packs are child-resistant and senior-citizen friendly, they are the most preferred format currently used for single-dosage drugs. It can also be incorporated with RFID so that it can be tracked easily.

Restraints: Recycling Challenges with Flexible Packaging Products

Recycling flexible pouches and other products are cumbersome and not economically viable, as separating those materials involves many processes. The multilayer films include a combination of paper, foil, and plastic. Also, various polymers are possible, which would require investments in terms of machinery and technology. Unlike rigid plastic products, recycled flexible packaging cannot be used for packaging food and pharmaceuticals as per FDA regulations. The recycled material can only be used for other applications. The recycling process involves the collection of waste, sorting, and recycling. In these processes, the materials undergo washing, shredding, and categorization of plastic and extruding. The materials that are of low quality are disposed of or transferred to energy recovery centers. End-users use only high-quality material output.

Opportunities: Increased Focus on Sustainable Flexible Packaging

Since plastic packaging has a higher share in the overall flexible packaging market, the environmental impact of plastic usage as a packaging material is also high. The pressure on the food and beverage, pharmaceutical industries, and consumer goods to reduce dependency on plastic is regularly increasing, which has been passed on to packaging vendors. Sustainability is not limited to materials but extends to the production process, functionality, logistics, and end-use of expired products. Both suppliers and buyers of flexible packaging products are looking to make a positive impact on the environment. By 2030, the European Commission plans to ensure that all plastic-based packaging will be recyclable or reusable. Presently, only around 30% of the plastic waste generated in Europe is collected to be recycled. The plan is the increase the collection to more than 40% by 2022 in the initial phase on a priority basis. Though, it has been noticed that an increased amount of plastic waste was generated during 2020 due to the increased use of pouches, plastic bags, and other packaging materials. The EU plans to ensure that the complete lifecycle of plastic production (resin or film) is redesigned to produce recycled products and, hence, are economically viable to producers.

Scope of the Report

The study categorizes the flexible packaging market based on component, waste type, method, and application at the regional and global levels.

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By Material Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017-2027)

  • Flexible Plastic
    • PE
    • BOPP
    • CPP
    • BOPET
    • PA
    • PET
    • PVC
    • EVOH
    • Others
  • Flexible Paper
  • Foil

By Product Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017-2027)

  • Bags
  • Pouches
  • Others

By Printing Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017-2027)

  • Flexographic
  • Rotogravure
  • Others

By Application Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017-2027)

  • Consumer Packaging
  • Industrial Packaging

By End-User Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017-2027)

  • Bakery and Confectionery
  • Meat, Poultry, and Seafood
  • Dairy
  • RTE
  • Frozen Food
  • Tea and Coffee
  • Others
    • Healthcare
    • Personal Care
    • Petfood

By Region Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017-2027)

  • North America (US, Canada, Mexico)
  • South America (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Rest of Latin America)
  • Europe (Germany, Italy, France, UK, Spain, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Rest of Europe)
  • Asia Pacific (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia & New Zealand, Rest of Asia Pacific)
  • The Middle East & Africa (Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa, Northern Africa, Rest of MEA)

By material, The electric segment is projected to account for the largest market share

The global flexible packaging market by material can be segmented into the following categories as flexible plastic, flexible paper, and foil. In 2020, flexible plastic accounted for the largest market share of 68.2% in the global flexible packaging market. Pouches have the highest demand in the flexible plastic packaging market and are sold in film or pre-made pouches. The demand drivers of the flexible plastic packaging industry include the food industry, accounting for a major share of over 70%. In the pouch segment, stand-up pouches are growing at an annual rate of around 5% as these use 60% lesser plastic and are more convenient to use with many closure options. The advantage of stand-up pouches is that they can empty the product packed inside it completely, unlike rigid containers where around 10% of the product packed inside cannot be emptied. The barrier properties of flexible plastic pouches are enhanced by using a single substrate or a combination of different substrates. Co-extrusion or lamination are the two methods used in the industry to manufacture multilayer and multi-material flexible packaging, where flexible plastics weigh the highest. However, the recycling process is cumbersome due to the usage of multi-materials.

Asia Pacific accounts for the highest CAGR during the forecast period

Based on the regions, the global flexible packaging market is dominated across North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, South America, and the Middle East & Africa. Globally, Asia Pacific is estimated to hold the highest CAGR of 5.2% in the global flexible packaging market during the forecast period. The APAC region has both emerging and established markets. Japan and Australia are more mature markets, while China, India, and other southeast Asian countries are emerging as the growth enabler markets in the APAC region. Flexible packaging provides additional features without increasing the product’s overall weight, and hence, is the most suited for various end-users. The selection of materials is important as people look for high-quality products with longer shelf life. The market dynamics in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan match those of the US and other western European countries such as the UK, France, and others.

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After the Asia Pacific, Europe is the fastest-growing region, with a CAGR of 4.4%, during the forecast period. Vendors with technologically advanced equipment have an edge in the market and can deliver aseptic, retort, anti-counterfeit, and child-resistant packaging. Healthy growth in most end-user markets such as coffee, pet food, and fresh food has increased recently. Smaller households need more single-serve options, and there is a rising demand from consumers for more product varieties. This, in turn, supports the shift toward flexible packaging from rigid packaging as the former offers greater convenience and fits better with today’s lifestyle needs.

Key Market Players

The flexible plastic packaging market is dominated by a few globally established players, such as Amcor, Berry Global Inc., Mondi, Sonoco, Sealed Air Corporation, Huhtamaki, Coveris, Transcontinental Inc. Clondalkin, among many others. Every company follows its business strategy to attain the maximum market share.

Recent Developments

  • In August 2020, Sonoco acquired Can Packaging, a privately owned designer and manufacturer of sustainable paper packaging and related manufacturing equipment in Habsheim, France.
  • In May 2019, Sealed Air Corporation announced a definitive agreement to acquire Automated Packaging Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of high-reliability, automated bagging systems.
  • In 2019, Berry Global completed the acquisition of the RPC group.
  • In 2019, Amcor completed the acquisition of Bemis.

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Key Issues Addressed

  • What is the market size by various segmentation of the flexible packaging by region and its respective countries?
  • What are the customer buying behavior, key takeaways, and Porter’s 5 forces of the flexible packaging market?
  • What are the key opportunities and trends for manufacturers involved in the flexible packaging supply chain?
  • What are the fundamental dynamics (drivers, restraints, opportunities, and challenges) of the market?
  • What and how regulations, schemes, patents, and policies are impacting the growth of the market?
  • What are the upcoming technological solutions influencing market trends? How will existing companies adapt to the new change in technology?
  • The market player positioning, top winning strategies by years, company product developments, and launches will be?
  • How has COVID-19 impacted the demand and sales of flexible packaging in the global market? Also, the expected BPS drop or rise count of the market and market predicted recovery period.
  • Detailed analysis of the competitors and their latest launch, and what are the prominent startups introduced in the target market? Also, detailed company profiling of 25+ leading and prominent companies in the market.

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