Surveys: Flexible packaging demand to grow internationally, domestically
Non-traditional meals becoming popular with consumers
Consumers call for greener living-but not on their dime
SOURCES FOR CURRENT RESIN PRICES


Surveys: Flexible packaging demand to grow internationally, domestically

Global demand will rise noticably in Asian countries, but U.S. converted flexible packaging will also see gains.

Global demand for flexible packaging will increase 3.5% annually, reaching more than 19 million metric tons in 2013 says a new study, World Converted Flexible Packaging, by The Freedonia Group. The anticipated growth is driven mostly by increasing food and beverage production, cost, performance and source reduction advantages over rigid alternatives, and continued developments in performance resins and various fitments and closures.

According to Freedonia’s findings, the largest demand increases will occur in developing regions, including Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East as these areas experience population growth and expanding international trade. Some of the strongest gains are expected in China, a country that recently surpassed Japan in becoming the second largest converted flexible packaging market in the world. Likewise, strong growth in domestic output and growing consumer product markets will put India on the forefront of growing flexible packaging demand in Asia.

Freedonia’s global report suggests that gains won’t be as robust in areas where the packaging market is well-established, including Western Europe, Japan and the U.S. In a separate, U.S.-specific study, however, Freedonia reported that U.S. demand for flexible packaging will exceed $18 billion by 2013, a trend driven largely by a rebounding economy, proliferation of pouch formats, and advances in convenience and performance features.

Continuing on their current course, stand-up pouches will gain an expanded presence in a variety of food and non-food applications, helped by product differentiation and the presence of convenience features, including zippers and spouts. Further, relatively newer pouch types, like flat-bottomed, side-gusseted and stick pouches will accelerate this trend. In considering the broader flexible packaging market, plastic bags will be driven by performance advantages over paper in terms of moisture protection and puncture resistance, along with resin enhancements and further downgauging of films.

Freedonia’s U.S. report also points out that growth in food markets will be driven by increasing demand for convenience features and further-processed food items, products that often use higher barrier (and more costly) packaging materials to enhance shelf life. Demand will also benefit from social trends and increased numbers of single-person or empty nest households and households where all adults work-all demographics where smaller package sizes and more convenient foods have traditionally flourished. Of these food packaging markets, Freedonia’s research indicates that meat, produce and beverages will see the strongest gains. Among non-food packaging markets, pharmaceutical and medical applications will experience the fastest growth thanks to heightened barrier performance needs and cost and convenience advantages.

Non-traditional meals becoming popular with consumers

Consumer survey finds that an overwhelming majority of consumers snack between meals.

A Reuters Business Wire survey reports that hectic and crowded daily schedules are leading more and more consumers to eat non-traditional meals. In the consumer study, 97% of respondents indicated they typically snack between meals-a much higher percentage than those who indicated eating breakfast, lunch or dinner on a consistent basis. Snack foods, often defined by portion size and time of day consumed, appeal to consumers’ need for convenience. For consumers, convenience is the most sought-after quality in a snack after flavor; for flexible packaging converters, it is likewise an important feature in package design.

While snacks are a relatively new category within foodservice operations, snacking is not a new concept to consumers. Despite the fact that away-from-home food purchases have steadily outpaced retail food purchases, the majority of snack food purchases are made in supermarkets, followed by convenience stores.

Consumers call for greener living-but not on their dime

Consumers’ commitment to green, environmental living is significantly shaped by financial constraints.

Mintel research conducted in Britain shows that one in five consumers is not in a financial position to think about green or ethical issues. Even before the economic downturn, price premiums acted as a barrier to widespread acceptance of green products, and as priorities have shifted during the downturn, 12% of adults stated that they could no longer afford price premiums for green or ethical products.

However, Mintel’s report also shows a strong commitment to ethical and environmental issues, as those rating them as “very important” inched up marginally on 2008. Today, some 97% of adults have adopted at least one of the greener behaviors covered by Mintel’s survey, suggesting that a strong basis of support for further green initiatives remains, leaving retailers and manufacturers to provide positive leadership.

“To overcome the ‘many concerned, but fewer buying’ scenario, retailers and manufacturers need to give people more reasons to buy, such as value-added benefits such as superior taste or health benefits,” says Richard Caines, senior retail analyst for Mintel. “However, there is an element of people being greener by default because as people look to save money they are consuming less, using less energy and reducing their carbon footprint.”

The research also reveals that those Britons surveyed have a strong opinion about current packaging use. Some 74% think retailers should do more to reduce the amount of packaging used. While excessive packaging is an issue that consumers feel strongly about, the report suggests that packaging is not a point of difference that is likely to influence the consumers’ choice of store or choice of product. Instead, the focus for the time being (if not for most people always) is firmly on saving money and looking for the best value.

“These figures show that so long as actions are low cost and do not inconvenience people, they are easily assimilated into their lifestyles,” says Caines. “Green activities, such as recycling, that cost nothing are widely supported and there is widespread support for more action on reducing waste, such as retailers making more use of recyclable materials or the use of re-usable containers.”

SOURCES FOR CURRENT RESIN PRICES
Chemical Market Associates Inc.
DeWitt & Co. Inc.
ICIS
IDES Inc.
Plastics News