The global consumer flexible packaging market is forecast to grow 4.1% to 22.5 million tonnes, valued at US$71.3 billion, by 2016, according to a new study from Pira International. This growth will be driven, the report finds, by flexible solutions replacing many traditional pack types, such as metal cans, glass and plastics bottles, and liquid cartons across a wide range of end-use sectors.
This forecast is not so surprising when you consider how flexible packaging is helping brand owners across various product sectors create innovative new products and line extensions that have the essential on-shelf differentiation, while ticking all the boxes when it comes to product protection and consumer convenience. Additionally, flexibles can often offer a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to many other forms of packaging – a key attribute for brand owners given the growing importance being attached to carbon footprint analysis and the environmental impact of packaging.
In our flexible packaging feature this month we look at some of the key trends and technological developments in paper, film and print that are helping drive the growth this sector is enjoying.
However, the flexible packaging sector is not the only one showing healthy growth. The European glass container industry reported a 3.5% increase in production in 2010, in part thanks to an increasing consumer awareness of the material’s many benefits.
A recent survey found that “three quarters of European consumers preferred glass as a packaging material for food and drinks”. The top three reasons given were: glass packaging preserves the taste of its contents; it is considered healthy and safe; and is environmentally ‘friendly’. That glass is endlessly recyclable appeals to most consumers’ environmental consciences. About 80% of collected glass is recycled in a local bottle-to-bottle production system. And this is being further encouraged by the glass industry through social media campaigns, such as Friends of Glass, which has just launched a ‘Pass the Bottle’ game on Facebook (see feature section).
I believe that helping consumers recognise and understand the benefits of packaging, and the recycling of it, should be encouraged by all materials sectors and, maybe, social media is the route to take.