Global Bulk Packaging
Global demand for bulk packaging is forecast to rise 3.1% yearly to $75.7 billion in 2026, driven by rising manufacturing activity in many key bulk packaging markets, including chemicals, food and beverages, and durable goods. Price inflation, which elevated 2021 value demand, particularly for plastic and steel, is expected to play less of a role through the forecast as raw material costs and supply chains normalize.
Shipping Sacks Remain Largest Product; Intermediate Bulk Containers Increase Market Share
Shipping sacks are forecast to remain the largest product type and are expected to account for nearly 19% of total demand in 2026. This market position is due to their widespread use in the large food and beverage market, where they are used for the transport and storage of commodity products. Healthy gains in food and beverage production globally will support growth.
Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) will be the only product to appreciably increase their share of the market, supported by their performance characteristics:
- The generally cubic shape of IBCs allows for improved stackability and better use of space in warehouses and transport vehicles.
- IBCs do not require extensive additional bulk packaging, such as film wrap or straps.
- IBCs have greater capacity than many drums or shipping sacks.
- IBCs, particularly rigid IBCs, can be reused.
Food & Beverage, Chemical & Pharmaceutical Markets Will Continue to Dominate Demand
In 2026, food, beverage, chemical, and pharmaceutical production will dominate the global bulk packaging market, accounting for over half of global demand:
- In the developed economies of the US and Western Europe, the sheer size of these industries support a significant level of demand for bulk packaging.
- The fastest gains will be seen for the Asia/Pacific region, most notably in India where major chemical and pharmaceutical producers have expanded their manufacturing capacities. China will also continue to have a large impact on the global bulk packaging market, accounting for 28% of global absolute gains through 2026.
Interest in Sustainability Is Leading Companies to Evaluate Their Bulk Packaging Choices
Although the bulk packing industry has not faced the same level of scrutiny regarding the environmental impact of their products as the primary packaging industry, many companies are still examining their bulk packaging through the lens of sustainability in order to help them reach stated goals of improving their environmental footprints. As a result, there is increased demand for products that are either themselves reusable or products that can protect the integrity of other bulk packaging, such as drum liners used in drums. Higher value products made from metal, heavy plastic, and other durable materials stand to benefit from this trend, as their durability allows for frequent reuse by companies. Flexible plastic liners will also see increased use, as they can prevent contamination of products and thereby expand options for their reuse or expand their useful lifespans.
This Freedonia industry study analyzes the $75.7 billion global bulk packaging industry. It presents historical demand data (2011, 2016, and 2021) and forecasts (2026 and 2031) by product (shipping sacks, drums, film wrap, intermediate bulk containers, bulk pails, material handling containers, other bulk packaging) and market (chemical and pharmaceutical; food and beverage; durable goods; agricultural goods; plastic, rubber, and fiber; other markets). The study also evaluates company market share and competitive analysis on the industry competitors including Amcor, Berry Global, Greif, Mauser Packaging Solutions, Mondi, SCHÃœTZ, and Signode.