Expert analysis in the Smithers report – The Future of Global Corrugated Board Packaging to 2025 forecasts that global corrugated board will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% across 2020-2025 to reach $205.7 billion. The volume of board consumed worldwide will increase at a slightly slower rate to reach 193.2 million tonnes in that year.
The Smithers study tracks micro and macro trends in this industry for 2015-2025. This is segmented across for six corrugated grades – unbleached kraftliner (UBKL), white-top kraftliner (WTKL), unbleached testliner (UBTL), white-top testliner (WTTL), semi-chemical fluting (SCF), waste-based fluting (WBF); 15 end-use applications; and 63 countries and world regions.
The COVID-19 pandemic will see a marked impact on corrugated consumption in certain sectors and regions, especially those worst affected by the virus. In terms of end-uses food shipments will be least affected while other consumer items will see a more significant drop.
These will be mitigated in developed regions by the strong increase in e-commerce as stay-at-home consumers undertake more online shopping. Several board converters have developed e-commerce specific delivery designs to capitalise on this, accentuating what the industry has already identified as a key growth segment.
In the longer term, Smithers identifies the major business trends that support further use of corrugated-board packaging.
- Recycling and sustainability will remain a key concern for converters and brand owners; but oversupply of materials is liable to generate new price pressures
- Demand for finer flute grades for high-quality printed cases and as alternatives to folding cartons will rise
- Further pressure for lightweighting of corrugated designs will have a negative impact on volume sales as less fibre delivers an equivalent required performance
- E-commerce will continue to expand, even once lockdown (shelter-in-place) orders have been revoked; this will generate new need for white-top liner that can receive
high-quality print graphics in particular
- Dimensional (DIM) weighing in packaging, and the focus on minimising extraneous protective components will slow some of the expanded use of corrugated in direct-to-consumer e-commerce shipping
- There will be more use of retail-ready packaging formats, as more modern retailing expands into developing markets in Asia and elsewhere
- Digital (inkjet) printing will increase overall demand for better quality substrates and expand the options for packaging printers in both standard and RRP corrugated formats
- New coating technologies, including bio-based polymer solutions will help improve the recyclability of coated corrugated grades
- Industry consolidation will continue leading to greater concentration of capacities and more uniformity for users.