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PMMI releases study on flexible packaging

According to a Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) market report, the flexible packaging segment comprises 41% of the total packaging market and continues to gradually steal market share from rigid packaging, which currently accounts for the remaining 59%. Tom Egan, vice president for Industry Services at PMMI, discussed this and other flexible packaging data last week at the 13th Annual Global Pouch Forum in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

Egan noted that food products and flexible packaging have an almost natural fit, a trend the PMMI data clearly supports: 56% of all food and beverage shipments use flexible packaging, making this the largest market for flexible packaging. This strong presence is followed by the consumer goods (36%), pharmaceutical/healthcare (14%) and retail (10%) segments.

The PMMI presentation at the Global Pouch Forum confirmed the stand-up pouch's popularity, as 59% of companies who are increasing their flexible packaging usage choose the stand-up pouch. Drivers behind this growth include excellent shelf presence, convenience and improved manufacturing efficiencies, said Egan.

Pouches are tipped to more than double their share of the US beverage packaging market over the next decade as manufacturers look for greener options.

This is one of the key market opportunities identified in a new drinks packaging study carried out by Proactive Worldwide on behalf of Pack Expo organisers PMMI.

The report, “Beverage Packaging Market Assessment - A Benchmark Study,” said pouch containers are expected to show the greatest percentage growth of all packaging formats for drinks over the next 10 years.
It predicts that the size of the pouch segment to more than double from its current value of $545m.

Driving this growth will be the environmental credentials of pouches as they are very space efficient and therefore offer significant savings in transportation and storage. The study said the beverage volume transported in a truckload of quart-sized pouches would require nine trucks of glass or plastic bottles.
PMMI said pouches also use far less landfill space than plastic, and are often 100 per cent biodegradable.

Facilitating increased use of pouches are new manufacturing technologies that place the cost and speed of pouch production in line with high speed glass bottle production.

Sustainability is expected to drive other major changes in the industry. Most respondents to the PMMI survey said they anticipate stricter environmental regulations, and this is also likely to put pressure on costs.
PMMI said beverage manufacturers will therefore be looking to packaging suppliers to work out ways of reducing secondary packaging, and provide cost-effective green packaging.

Alongside regulatory changes is a growing consumer interest in greener packaging that the PMMI research found to be most pronounced in the carbonated soft drinks segment.

Migrating to green packaging will therefore be an issue of greatest urgency in this sector.

Plastic bottles and pouches are set to benefit. According to the study plastics dominate the $22bn US beverage primary packaging market, with 40 percent of consumer goods companies using the material to attract consumers.

The domination of plastics is not expected to change although manufacturers will continue to opt for lighter, more eco-friendly options.

Single serve containers
But sustainability and cost are not the only priorities facing the beverage packaging market. Keeping up with product trends and their packaging implications is also vital.

For example, single serve drinks are growing in popularity and offer high margins to manufacturers, so eye-catching single serve containers are likely to be an area of growth.

“Single-serve containers are particularly strong market drivers. Consumers are seeking ‘grab and go’ convenience at retail, and they’re increasingly looking to packaging for portion control – even with beverages,” said Charles Yuska, president & CEO of PMMI.

10 April 2011 - Felicity Murray