Plastic, metal or rather cork? Not only for wines caps and closures are an integral part of the packaging. Ceresana has analyzed the European market for closures in regard to the most diverse applications, for example the segments lemonades, water, fruit juices, beer, wine & spirits, but also foodstuffs or cosmetics & pharma. In the recently published study the market researchers forecast European demand for these everyday products to rise to about 460 billion units by 2021.
Plastics On The Rise
Thanks to low weight and high versatility, plastics for packaging often offer cost advantages, facilitate handling and processing and open up new design options. Plastic containers are usually combined with a plastic closure. The quality improves continuously, so it is no surprise they are gaining access to more and more packaging segments. The market for plastic closures can profit from the rise of one-way PET bottles in particular; rising demand for bottled water and smaller packaging sizes as well as dispensing systems will provide further important stimuli to growth in the future. Correspondingly, materials traditionally used for closures, e.g. aluminum, tinplate or cork, are losing market shares. In the segment cosmetics and pharma, the strong increase of demand for plastic packaging comes at the expense of glass containers. One advantage for manufacturers is the fact that plastic, as a universal material, can be used for virtually all types of packaging. As a result, the market for plastic closures is not linked as closely to specific packaging means as are, for example, crown corks to the sale of beer bottles. The segment wine, however, is an exception: it is becoming more and more common to use metal closures.
But What About Cork?
Wine closures made from cork (either one-piece or agglomerated cork) were not facing serious competition for a long time. But nowadays plastic and especially metal are used in order to reduce costs and limit negative effects natural cork might have on the taste of the wine. In Spain, Italy, France and Portugal, the key growing area of cork oaks, on the other hand, the substitution for plastic and metal closures proceeds much more slowly. These regions have traditionally been growing wines that require properties specific to cork closures, e.g. exchange of oxygen, for afterripening processes. Yet in other countries, for example Greece and Austria, the market share of cork fell rapidly. The largest growth market currently is the segment aluminum screw caps: They are highly practical as no cork screws are needed to open the bottle and, if necessary, the bottle can be reclosed easily.
General Trends Necessitating Innovations
The market for closures is subject to, e.g., governmental regulations, but also general trends such as convenience, rising women's employment, sustainability or lightweighting. In many industrialized countries, effects of the economic crisis such as a rising unemployment rate and subsequent decline of available income are playing a role, as is demographic development. Ceresana (ceresana.com) expects demand for more complex closures such as tamper-evident closures and dispensers to rise. The industry maintains its focus on lightweighting, since lighter closures will reduce consumption of raw materials, transport costs and impact on the environment. Childproof closures are becoming more important in the growth market pharma especially. The aging population in many countries renders easy-opening and also easy-resealing more important. Dispenser system will have to guarantee an even better dosing and handling in this regard.