Global demand for transparent barrier films is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 3.9%, reaching 1.9 million tonnes in 2021. Apparent consumption of flexible aluminum-foil packaging is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 2.5% per year reaching almost 3.0 million tonnes by 2021.
“Packaging incorporating aluminum foil faces fierce competition from transparent barrier flexible packaging in various end-use sectors due to consumers’ desire to buy products in a transparent packaging, which meets three parameters: portability, portion control and preparation,” says Vlad Savinov, author of the report. “In addition, transparent barrier flexible packaging has been replacing rigid packaging formats offering lower pack weight, cost economics and new branding opportunities.”
The future growth rates of the flexible foil packaging and transparent barrier film market are similar to the projected GDP growth rates. Because of growing consumer focus on convenience and sustainability, flexible packaging has been one of the fastest-growing packaging areas over the past 10 years, and this rapid development is continuing and accelerating. Well-developed and saturated regional markets will see no significant changes while the regions with improving living standards and increasing consumption of packaged products will continue to grow steadily. There are a number of reasons for the expected growth of flexible barrier packaging sales, including technical developments, cost per package, sustainability initiatives, and the growth of the consumer class in Asia.
Both foil and transparent barrier packaging are making inroads into rigid packaging markets. Flexible packaging uses fewer resources and energy than other forms of packaging. It provides significant reductions in packaging costs, materials use and transport costs as well as certain performance advantages over rigid packaging.
Flexible barrier packaging technology has advanced substantially over the past two decades and is now a consumer household mainstay. There has been continual development to provide properties such as high barrier to gas and vapor, extended shelf-life and convenience, which are increasingly demanded in food, consumables and pharmaceutical packaging. Today the properties of flexible packaging can be tailored to provide specific combinations required for packaging a broad range of products.
Food packaging continues to be the largest end-use segment for transparent barrier films and foil flexible packaging. The currently fastest growing end-use areas for pouch packaging include snack foods, beverages, meat products, produce, pet food, pet supplies and pharmaceuticals & medical devices. In terms of foil flexible packaging demand, its growth is partially due to the growing demand for convenience foods and pharmaceutical packaging, but the majority of foil packaging’s growth is due to the overall expansion of the market in emerging economies, and not due to growth within the foil market itself.
Western Europe is the largest regional market for transparent barrier films with 35% of global market volume, followed by Asia-Pacific and North America. During the period 2010–14, Asia Pacific was the fastest-growing regional market with China and India leading market growth. In terms of packaging incorporating flexible foil, Western Europe is the largest regional market for flexible aluminium foil packaging film, followed by Asia Pacific and North America.