Paul Gaster, the report's author, stated, "Even in these uncertain times, volume growth in European consumption was almost 2% last year, confirming that flexible packaging continues to suffer less than other industries in a downturn."
This overall growth figure does, however, cover up some significant regional differences in demand trend. For instance, the larger volume markets of Western Europe grew at around 4 - 6%, while demand in the Spanish and Portuguese markets was broadly static and in Greece flexible packaging values declined again in 2011.
The Eastern European market, such as Russia and Poland, continues to exhibit growth at twice the average for Europe as a whole, PCI says.
Further industry consolidation was another significant factor, which has changed the European supplier base and is noted in PCI's report. In 2010, Amcor acquired Alcan's European flexible packaging operations. This past October, Mondi completed the acquisition of Nordenia International AG. The report said Mondi is emerging as Europe's third largest player, after Amcor and Constantia.
In addition, a number of venture capital groups, notably Sun Capital, have been active in reshaping the structure of the industry through a series of acquisitions. This has resulted in Britton Group and Kobusch Packaging appearing in PCI's European top 20 table of flexible packaging converters for the first time. The table also shows for the first time a converter from Eastern Europe appearing in the list, the Ukrainian company Ukrplastic.