In a recent study from The Freedonia Group Inc. (Cleveland, OH), the industry market research firm forecasted U.S. demand for specialty films to rise 4.8% annually totaling $8.4 billion by 2019. Spurring this growth is the increased need for high value, technologically advanced materials that provide characteristics, such as barrier properties, controlled permeability, light control, and electrical conductivity or resistivity.
According to the report, barrier films accounted for 65% of specialty films demand in 2014. Through 2019, developments will be driven by growing barrier requirements in the packaging industry to better protect food, pharmaceuticals and other products. â€œThe most rapid gains, however, will be found in biodegradable and water soluble films, as improved technology and consumer acceptance allow these films to penetrate new applications. Above average growth is also forecast for light control and safety and security films, fueled by a strong improvement in building construction activity,â€ according to analyst Kent Furst.
A positive outlook for the packaging industry, where two-thirds of all specialty films are used, will increase demand, particularly in applications requiring barrier properties. Opportunities for growth in this market include meat packaging, where technologies such as modified atmosphere packaging and vacuum skin packaging require the use of high-barrier films, and pharmaceutical and medical packaging, where protection from contamination is a necessity.
The biggest opportunity for growth is seen in the rebounding construction industry, with the rising use of energy saving window films.
Below average advances, however, are forecast for personal care products, as use of breathable films is highly mature in the slow-growing disposable hygiene products market. Additionally, a downturn in motor vehicle production will restrain demand in transportation equipment applications.