World demand to approach $27 billion in 2018 Global demand for protective packaging is expected to register healthy growth, as manufacturing activity around the world continues to grow, particularly in the world’s developing regions. Additionally,Internet-based retail continues to post double-digit growth in many countries,including many of the largest and/or most affluent nations. Suppliers and users alike will continue to seek ways in which protective products can reduce package weights while assuring high performance;and reduce overall logistical costs. Such efforts have led to the evolution of supply chains, as third-party logistics (3PL) and fulfillment service providers are now a major outlet for protective packaging products.
Asia/Pacific region to post fastest growth Due to the size of its manufacturing sector, and its growing middle class, the Asia/Pacific region will offer the best opportunities for growth through 2018.However, developed areas, such as the US, Canada, Western Europe, and the affluent Asian nations, will also post healthy gains, due largely to growth in Internet-based retail and accelerated manufacturing activity.
E-commerce to drive growth worldwide Internet shopping and other e-commerce outlets currently account for about four percent of global retail sales, and will continue to register robust advances.Consumer purchasing via PCs, and,increasingly, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets (aka, m-commerce),has increased at remarkable rates,even in countries with fairly developed,mature retail sectors. Sales of books, recorded music, personal electronics, and other items via the Internet and traditional catalog/mailorder channels have boosted demand for air pillows, loose-fill,paper fill, bubble packaging, and protective mailers.
Sustained manufacturing activity to boost demand Manufacturing accounts for the largest share of protective packaging demand.Protective products such as molded plastic foams, paperboard edge protectors,and foam-in-place polyurethane are used to secure products from damage during shipping. The Asia/Pacific region,already the largest regional market for protective packaging in manufacturing applications, will increase its share of this segment, as more of the world’s manufacturing capacity for appliances, electronics,and other products shifts to countries such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Shifts in product mix driven by environmental concerns Foamed plastics and paperboard protectors will continue to be the largest product types. However, other products --including bubble packaging, protective mailers, and air pillows -- are expected to post faster growth. This is due mainly to their use in shipping products sold via the Internet directly to consumers. Environmental factors are also a factor in the product mix. Efforts to reduce resin volumes and to use recyclable materials will favor thin-walled air pillows and thinner gauge, recyclable films. Paper fill made from reclaimed fiber will also see increased use due to regulatory standards requiring use of recycled paper and consumer preference for more sustainable packaging options.