The Flexible Packaging Association recently held its 2017 Fall Executive Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. A record number of FPA members and guests attended the conference, which was preceded by the association’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee meetings. This issue of the FPA Update highlights some of the presentations.

Update on the International Trade Commission and Section 232 Investigations of Aluminum Imports

Jeff Grimson, a Partner at Mowry & Grimson PLLC, provided an update on the International Trade Commission and Section 232 investigations of aluminum imports.

On March 9, 2017, the Aluminum Association filed a petition with the International Trade Commission (ITC) claiming that dumped and subsidized aluminum foil from China is causing or threatening injury to the domestic aluminum foil industry. FPA members testified at the preliminary ITC hearing on March 30, 2017. On April 21, 2017, the ITC voted to continue the case.

On August 8, 2017, the Department of Commerce (DOC), who sets the rates, announced countervailing preliminary duties. Preliminary antidumping duties were to be announced on October 4, 2017, but the announcement has been delayed until on or before November 30th. Between the preliminary and final duties, the DOC will conduct on-site audits, and will also hear written/in-person arguments by exporters, importers, and domestic purchasers. The final countervailing and antidumping duties are expected in late February 2018, contingent on the ITC’s final determination.

The ITC hearing is projected for February 19, 2018, and late March 2018 is the expected determination.  The ITC has the “last word” and can terminate a case, even after the DOC imposes steep duties. The duties will be refunded if the ITC terminates the case. If the ITC votes yes to injury, the DOC will publish an Order concluding the case, estimated for early April 2018. Duty rates can and usually are adjusted in future years.

Meanwhile, on April 26, 2017, the Trump Administration initiated a Section 232 investigation under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, a little used statute; generally reserved for war time, which seeks to determine what, if any, effects imports of aluminum have on national security. The scope is broad enough to encompass foil and all imports (not just China).

FPA testified at the June 22, 2017, DOC hearing and submitted written comments on June 23, 2017. FPA, as well as other trade associations and companies, embarked on a massive advocacy campaign to Congress. The report is now stalled and not expected until the end of year (after tax reform). FPA is optimistic that the remedy will be none or a tariff/rate quota that does not negatively impact the industry.

State of Sustainable Packaging

Adam Gendell, Associate Director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, discussed the state of sustainable packaging. Walmart recently unveiled their new sustainable packaging priorities. The priorities include optimizing package designs to protect the product and reduce materials; source sustainability to maximize recycled and sustainably sourced renewable content, and enhance material health; and support recycling by designing packaging for recycling and communicate the recyclability of the package.

“E-Commerce has a unique potential to reduce waste in the environment by eliminating excessive packaging,” according to Gendell. Amazon moved towards frustration-free packaging, and has seen a decrease in the amount of packaging components, package volume, and shipping costs. The products have minimal packaging, are easy to open, and contain curbside recyclable packaging materials.

The How2Recycle Label® is a standardized on-package labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. How2Recycle plays a critical role in the effective recovery of materials by providing a platform for brands to communicate recycling instructions for packaging directly to their end consumers. The member companies represent over 500 brands in the marketplace.

Global Trends in Flexible Packaging

Aric Saulka, Manager of Government and Trade for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, and Tim Trovillion, Business Development Account Executive, from Euromonitor International, discussed global trends for flexible packaging. Flexible packaging is estimated to grow 11% by 2021.

In Latin America, flexible packaging will continue to grow due to multipacks and economy products. Smaller presentations are growing across several industries due to reduced disposable incomes, which is impacting consumer behavior. Convenience and affordability are taking precedence over sustainability.

In Western Europe, flexible plastics have strong growth in Turkey. Stand-up pouches are growing in nearly all markets, as the pouches are viewed as convenient and easy to recycle. Minimizing the environmental impact is an important concern for consumers, retailers, producers, and packaging players.

Asia Pacific represents the highest growth region in absolute and percentage terms. Flexible plastic will remain popular as consumers seek value for their money. In India, more manufacturers are transitioning to flexible packaging from the traditional glass and metal packaging. In China and Japan, simplified versions of packaging for sale via e-commerce will be more common.

In Eastern Europe, movement toward less expensive packaging materials, such as plastic, is a consequence of the turbulent economic conditions in the region. Consumers view stand-up pouches as a practical, easy-to-use, and economical packaging option. Ecological packaging is a growing trend in some markets, driven by middle-class and urban consumers.

Flexible plastic sees significant volume growth in the Middle East and Africa. Improving income levels and development of retail systems is increasing the consumption of packaged foods and beverages. Flexible plastics are estimated to grow approximately 5.15% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), with beauty & personal care, food, and home care packaging expected to see over 5% CAGR.

In North America, flexible pouches see growth in key food and beverage categories. Flexible pouches will see a large forecast CAGR of 5.7%, adding nearly 2 billion units sold by 2020. Confectionary and processed fruits drive growth in plastic pouches, which offers convenient pack sizes for on-the-go snacking.

For More Information

To download presentations and videos from the FPA 2017 Fall Executive Conference, please visit the “Members Only” section of For more information about FPA meetings and conferences, contact FPA at or 410-694-0800, or visit