The global functional additives and barrier coatings market for plastic packaging is projected to reach almost $3.7bn by 2018, according to a report from SmithersPira.
This is driven by the increasing demand for packaging materials that give greater protection to their contents, optimise shelf life, provide transparency and gloss and reduce the need for preservatives.
The market is projected to reach almost $2.8bn in 2013 and is forecast to grow 5.7% annually during the period 2013–18.
Food is the dominant market for the additive and coatings market used in plastic packaging, accounting for almost two-thirds of market value in 2013, but beverages are the largest single end-use sector.
In the beverages sector there will be growth in demand for barrier coated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for beer, plus juices, wine and milk predicted SmithersPira.
Other food, which includes retort packaging for ready meals, soups and sauces, is the second largest end-use segment.
Barrier coating and functional additives
Barrier coating technologies are helping to reduce packaging waste and allow recycling efforts by replacing multilayer film structures.
Barrier coatings included are metallised, organic liquid coatings, such as PVdC, EVOH, acrylics and PVOH, and the inorganic vapour deposition coatings, silicon oxide, aluminium oxide and carbon.
A functional additive modifies the properties of packaging to impart desirable or beneficial functions.
The plastic packaging additives in the report enhance or render a functional property to the packaging resin itself rather than assist in improving the efficiency of polymer processing.
The selected functional additives include antioxidants, antimicrobial agents, antistatic agents, anti-fog agents, clarifying agents, oxygen scavengers and UV stabilisers.
Oxygen scavengers are projected to make up 57% of the functional additive products share of the plastic packaging market at 2013 with UV stabilisers (12%) and antistatic agents (11.9%) the next most common.
Asia Pacific is the leading regional market for functional additives and barrier coatings in plastic packaging with a projected 57.3% share of global market value in 2013 with Japan alone taking 35.7% of global sales.
Western Europe is the second largest region (17.8%) followed by North America (15.2%).
Looking at key technology developments to 2018, the report said nanocomposite coatings for food and beverages are in its infancy with a high cost restraint but a growing number of companies are researching the use of nano-packaging.
Potential for nanotechnology in flexible packaging for use as ultra-thin surface coatings and barriers to provide precise layer thickness, antibacterial properties, dirt repellent surfaces, moisture absorption, oxygen scavenging and shelf-life extension, forecast SmithersPira.
Silicon oxide and aluminium oxide film coatings are currently being used for some niche food packaging applications, as replacement for aluminium foil and PVdC, but more costly than some organic coatings and difficult to process.
Silicon oxide and aluminium oxide barrier coatings are likely to develop in markets such as retort food applications and lidding film, predicted SmithersPira.