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Rigid losing to flexible packaging in North America

By Rod Addy, 16-Nov-2012

Related topics: Packaging Technology, Primary Packaging, Packaging

Rigid packaging is visibly giving way to flexible packaging in North America, according to Frost & Sullivan.

This was because of the latter’s light weight, superior barrier properties and prudent use of packaging materials, the market analyst said.

The company predicted compound annual growth of 3.8% for the total flexible packaging market, the majority of which is food-related, in the region.

Frost & Sullivan claims the sector chalked up sales of $25.4bn in 2011 and estimates it will reach $30.63bn in 2016.

Processed, packed and pre-cooked food

Changing lifestyles among consumers and the consequent dependence on processed, packed and pre-cooked food was driving the growth, said the company.

“In any application segment, product innovation geared toward effective performance, customisation and sustainability is essential for the success of this market,” added Frost & Sullivan research analyst Tridisha Goswami.

However, despite the current growth, strong competition from countries offering low-cost manufacturing, as well as more than 400 converters in North America, was slowing the market down, said the research group.

Thinner gauge sizes

It added that the market’s maturity was further compounded by the production of thinner gauge sizes, which was reducing volumes.

The need for packaging to be unique and in line with changing technologies was challenging smaller market participants, Frost & Sullivan claimed.

“Innovative packaging, customised products and sustainable packaging, along with mergers, acquisitions and partnerships, help companies gain expertise in niche segments and aid the overall growth of the market,” said Goswami.

Polymers

The firm said polymers were the dominant material used in flexible packaging due to their properties of high performance and weight reduction.

Moreover, they could be engineered for better performance characteristics, such as barrier protection, clarity, transparency and mechanical strength.

The dominant flexible packaging format is the pouch and this was set to remain the case during the period the research firm examined, 2012-2016, it affirmed.