Plastic bottles making in roads into carton market
A report from industry consultants, AMI Consulting, published in April 2014, notes that there have been changes in a number of end-use application trends and competing packaging formats that shape the demand for plastic blow moulded bottles in Europe.
Blow moulded plastic bottles is a market of nearly 4.5 million tonnes magnitude in Europe. Beverages accounted for two-thirds of the market demand in units. The growth trends differ depending on both the drinks category and the geography, but the overriding trend within the beverages market in Europe is toward ‘healthier options’. The demand for blow moulded beverage bottles in Europe is fuelled by continued substitution of glass bottles, cartons and cans. Moreover, consumers tend to make more impulse purchases whist on-the-go, which drives additional demand.
Liquid food is benefiting from a growing penetration of plastic bottles at the expense of cartons in white milk both in fresh and UHT sectors. This is thanks to increasing sales of dairy-based drinks as well as new technical advancements in barrier bottle technology for UHT milk bottles.
Household chemicals is a maturing application and shelf differentiation is a key driver for packaging innovation. Design innovation focuses on consumer convenience and accurate dosing. Competing plastic formats such as pouches, other flexible solutions, as well as thermoformed and injection moulded containers are expanding market share, directly eating into the demand for bottles. Moreover, more concentrated product formulations as well as ‘value’ sized bottles adversely influence the frequency of purchases. Given the high plastic penetration already achieved in that segment, the growth in bottle demand is expected to stagnate.
Drivers in toiletries and cosmetics packaging are similar, but this market is still generating organic growth across Europe. Mini-bottles have witnessed accelerated growth in demand following airline hand-luggage restrictions. That format is also used for liquid make-up products, which are experiencing a packaging shift from glass to plastic.
It is imperative for blow moulders to align with winning brand-owners and fillers in order to prosper. Balancing the conflicting needs of individual customers within mass production operations will continue to challenge converters over the next five years. The increasingly complex product mix of private label vs. premium brands and standard products vs. proprietary, combined with filler demand for flexibility are forcing strategic change within blow moulders universe.
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