Growing consumer focus on convenience and sustainable lifestyles has made flexible packaging one of the fastest growing packaging areas over the past 10 years.
The future impact of this trend on the two main competing barrier technologies used in this segment is analysed in depth in the new Smithers Pira report – The Future of Transparent Barrier Films versus Barrier Foil to 2021.
Smithers Pira predicts global demand for transparent barrier films reached 1.5 million tonnes for 2015, and is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 3.9% over the five-year study period, reaching 1.9 million tonnes in 2021.
Consumption of the alternative barrier solution – flexible aluminum foil packaging – is projected to have reached 2.5 million tonnes in 2015. This will increase at an average annual rate of 2.5% per year, reaching almost 3 million tonnes by 2021.
Continued rapid growth is predicted in emerging markets with improving living standards and increasing consumption of packaged products driving demand. Transparent barrier films are replacing traditional materials, such as flexible foil, for various applications due to consumer demand for packaging transparency, feasibility, and the use of metal detectors and microwave ovens.
The US is the largest material market for transparent barrier films, followed by Japan with respective volume shares of 21% and 17% in 2014. Western Europe is the largest regional market with 35% of global market volume, followed by Asia Pacific and North America. From 2010 to 2014, Asia Pacific was the fastest-growing region with China and India driving expansion.
For the forecast period 2015–2021, Smithers predicts the Middle East and Africa will record faster-than-average annual growth rates of 6.7% in transparent barrier films. North America, Western Europe and Japan are relatively mature markets and are forecast to show below-average growth for transparent barrier film during the forecast period.