As the new report from PCI, The Indian Flexible Packaging Market 2011, shows, India represents a $3 billion market that is expected to continue growing at around 15 percent a year until 2015, but businesses and investors need to understand the business environment before they can expect to be successful here.

Based in large part on interviews with Indian converters and substrate suppliers conducted between March and July 2011, PCI’s report carries detailed statistical analysis of trends in production, substrate usage and consumption, historical market drivers and expert forecasts, detailed profiles of ’s leading flexible packaging converters and analysis of and commentary on end-use segments.

India is, in flexible packaging as in so many other things, a land of opportunity. With a middle class the size of , Indian consumers have the purchasing power to match their counterparts in the West, and the Indian retail sector is rushing to satisfy them. is poised for huge growth within the retail sector, as well-developed, major retailing expands within Indian cities. With only 5 percent of food currently packaged, and Walmart stores allowed to move into retail just last year, the opportunities in flexible packaging are clearly enormous. Large, mostly coastal government-supported food manufacturers are also manufacturing cash crops for export throughout Asia.

The Indian converting industry is distinctly two-tiered: Serving the major food producers are very well developed converters producing European standard flexible packaging with German and Italian equipment. Outside the main centers, there is a less organized market, with a large number of small converters producing flexible packaging of generally lower quality. International groups are almost missing, with Huhtamaki the only substantial player. Indian export trade in converted flexible packaging has been growing, with long-run customers across Africa, the Middle East, , Asia and recognizing the high quality available from the major contractors.

Some of the end-uses are rather unfamiliar to Western converters. By some estimates, for example, 25 percent of all laminate sales are accounted for by small sachets of chewing tobacco, although they are the subject of Indian government legislation to combat litter. Pack sizes are generally smaller to match consumer purchasing power.

Many commentators have expressed the view that the Indian flexible packaging market will develop on the same lines as the Chinese. As the report demonstrates, however, the dynamics of the two territories are completely different. A bureaucratic and challenging political landscape, an increasing focus on environmental issues and the presence of established players, sometimes owned by the very manufacturers they supply, means that, while it may well be time to ‘dip a toe’ in the Indian market, there are still substantial hurdles to clear.

PCI Film Consulting