Rising resin costs along with changing consumer preferences are increasingly driving the growth of the U.S. markets for flexible food packaging. Flexible food packages offer high value for money and better convenience than other types of packaging and their lower gauges also imply lesser cost in terms of both manufacturing as well as transport. Given their ability to provide a high degree of product differentiation, stand-up pouches, in particular, are witnessing strong growth and are fast replacing conventional rigid packages.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan U.S. Plastics in Flexible Food Packaging Markets reveals that revenues in this industry totaled $11.48 billion in 2005 and can reach $19.71 billion in 2012.
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“Changing consumer preference patterns coupled with the increasing number of single households and reduced time spent on cooking are driving the emergence of convenient flexible food packages in the United States,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Anupama Ramaswamy. “The rising cost of aluminum is further forcing several manufacturers to shift from metal containers to flexible plastic packages, which provide equally good barrier properties and tensile strength and are also of lesser weight.”
This apart, the general shift from rigid plastic containers to flexible plastic packages is also benefiting the uptake of flexible food packages. Due to fluctuating resin prices, end-user companies are gradually adopting flexible plastic packages that are comparatively cheaper than rigid packages of the same volume. Moreover, these packages enable significant savings in transportation costs and facilitate better retail display, thereby drawing preference over rigid plastic packages.
However, escalating resin prices are raising concerns in the industry and are likely to prove a strong challenge for participants in the U.S. plastics in flexible food packaging markets. In the last three years, the prices of most resins used in flexible food packaging have risen by close to 40 percent every year. With thinner gauges, a mix of biodegradables with the current blend of materials is seen as a solution for the future, but the industry has to forge ahead a long way to reach this stage.
“With increasing resin prices, there is a constant drive among manufacturers to produce films that have thinner gauges and the challenge lies in developing films that are not only thin, but also have the necessary barrier properties,” says Ramaswamy. “A combination of these factors together with the constant development of new materials is likely to be critical in ensuring market success.”
In overcoming the many challenges and staying ahead of competition, flexible food packaging manufacturers will do well to ensure a right mix of R&D activities on new materials as well as investment in the correct type of equipment and technology. The quality of flexible products is also an important criterion for end users along with price and with an increasing number of brands vying for consumer attention, manufacturers will have to develop innovative packages that help customers differentiate their products.
U.S. Plastics in Flexible Food Packaging Markets is part of the Chemicals & Materials subscription. It provides market size and share of different flexible packages, competition analysis, as well as a study of end-user markets. In this research service, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following markets/applications/technologies: plastic flexible food bags, thermoformed products, films and wraps, as well as lids and pouches.
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U.S. Plastics in Flexible Food Packaging Markets