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July 27, 2008

2 Min Read
Plastic film demand to grow at rigid packaging’s expense

Demand for plastic film in the U.S. is projected to grow 2.6% annually to more than 16 billion lb by 2012, valued at $13.4 billion (resin cost only), according to a new report released by The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm. Total plastic film market value (including resins, additives, and processing and other costs) will reach nearly $32 billion. Advances will reflect film’s cost, performance, and source reduction advantages over rigid packaging, as well as opportunities in film products such as pouches and modified atmosphere packaging. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) will remain the leading film material, accounting for almost two-thirds of the total in 2012.

Demand for LDPE film is forecast to increase nearly 3% yearly to 10.5 billion lb in 2012, as a result of the film’s competitive cost structure, versatility, and opportunities in areas such as produce and snack packaging; stretch and shrink wrap; and trash bags. HDPE film will grow at a below average pace as a result of slow retail bag advances. Polypropylene film demand will expand 3.4% annually, driven by produce, grain mill, dairy product, and other food-packaging applications.

The study noted that PET film demand will continue to decline as remaining applications in photographic film and magnetic tape diminish further in the wake of continued inroads made by digital cameras, CDs, and DVDs. However, good opportunities are anticipated for PET film in food packaging applications such as snack foods, confections, and frozen food, due to needs for higher barrier properties.

Packaging accounted for nearly three-fourths of all plastic film use in 2007 due to cost, convenience, and source-reduction advantages over other materials. The most rapid growth is anticipated in secondary packaging due to opportunities in areas such as stretch and shrink wrap, and retail bags. Food packaging will grow at a near average pace, driven by continued expansion in produce, confections and frozen food segments. Non-packaging film advances will be fueled by trash bag growth. Research efforts will focus on improving film’s strength, barrier, and graphic capabilities, while maintaining a competitive cost position, said the Freedonia Group’s study.—[email protected]

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