The total global flexible packaging market is estimated to be $86 billion, an increase of 2.5% from 2015, according to Jan Homan, Chairman, Flexible Packaging Europe & Member, Supervisory Board, Constantia Flexibles. Homan recently spoke at the FPA 2017 Annual Meeting.

Homan expects higher growth (2.2%) in Central and Eastern Europe with consumption worth 2.8 billion Euros. Trading conditions with Russia are still difficult, but due to significant progress with import substitution, flexible packaging production has increased. Poland continues to grow as a flexible packaging producer, around 4% in 2016. Exports from Eastern Europe are also increasing.

Western Europe’s growth will be lower, coming in at 2% with consumption worth 11 billion Euros. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Benelux will see a growth rate of 2%, while Turkey will see a growth rate of 3%. Italian production is growing approximately 3% by value, and accounts for at least 50% of exports.

The depreciation of the British pound following Brexit is resulting in import substitution and more UK converters are targeting exports to mainland Europe. With a total production value of approximately 14.88 billion Euros, exports in Western Europe are approaching 10% of production, mostly for high specification materials. There is above average growth for end-use markets such as coffee, fresh produce, pet food, and pharmaceuticals from 2015.

Europe has a stable economic outlook. The GDP is expected to increase 1.8% in 2017 and 2018. Inflation will increase due to higher energy prices, but will stay below 2%. There is a steady decrease in Europe’s unemployment rate. Refugees have had a positive economic impact on Europe: +0.5 – 1.1% in Austria, Germany and Sweden, 0.25% in Europe. While these are all positive factors, there are a number of other factors that could influence European economics, including rising populistic and nationalistic trends, war in the Ukraine, and the uncertain political situation in Turkey.

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