Opportunities in high-barrier rigid plastic packaging market

The ambient long-life food segment (canned and glass jars) is being challenged by unfavorable market positioning as consumers are increasingly concerned about quality in comparison to the fresh and chilled variety of food. That’s according to a new report from Applied Market Information Ltd. (Bristol, UK), “High Barrier Rigid Plastic Packaging.”

Klearcan by Milacron
Co-injection technology is expected to increase its penetration via the commercialization of Milacron’s KlearCan.

Canned foods are generally perceived as inferior quality, less fresh and less authentic products, according to the report. However, their efficient supply chain, and consequent lower price, has captured vast market share to date. However, this segment will benefit strongly from the modernization and innovation that new technology in high-barrier plastic packaging is making possible, according to the report.

Growing consumer demand for convenience as well as suppliers’ search for market differentiation are the main drivers for packaging innovation in the ambient long-life segment. High-barrier plastic packaging offers superior functionality and aesthetics compared with traditional packaging media, such as metal and glass. High-barrier plastics have the potential to revitalize mature markets such as canned soups, fruit, vegetables and fish by introducing convenient, added-value containers suited to modern consumers.

The development of new applications, such as single-serve capsules, provides another growth avenue, noted the report. Single-serve capsules have become the key contributor to growth of high-barrier solutions with applications tripling in volume since 2013. Further growth in capsules is expected, but it will be tempered by competing non-barrier formats. Single-serve capsules are fueling not only demand for barrier thermoforming, but also enabling barrier co-injection projects, barrier in mold labeling and coatings to develop.

The volume realized with barrier co-injection technology accounted for a marginal share of the market so far. The years 2016-2017 saw the second wave of interest in this technology, with much more promising results. The renewed interest is being driven by the developments in single-serve capsules, resulting in projects like Jabil’s K-cups for Keurig, Menshen’s barrier capsules compatible with Nespresso and Nescafe Dolce Gusto systems, as well as Lapp Tec’s barrier capsules compatible with Nespresso. It is expected that co-injection technology will gain meaningful market presence in the next five years.

Outside of capsules, co-injection technology is expected to increase its penetration via the commercialization of Milacron’s KlearCan, following Del Monte’s breakthrough in the Philippines, as well as in the extended-shelf-life chilled dairy segment.

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