Are pouches here to stay? Sure looks like it. Global demand for pouches is projected to rise 6.2 percent annually to $37.3 billion in 2018, according to The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm. Growth will be driven by consumer and producer preferences for stand-up pouches over more traditional rigid packaging. The adoption of pouches with higher value features in developed markets - such as the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, and Japan - will support gains in dollar terms. Faster growth is expected in China and other developing nations, where rising personal incomes coupled with expanding production of packaged goods will promote higher demand for pouches.
Stand-up pouches will show the best growth prospects through 2018, although flat pouches will continue to account for the majority of the market. According to analyst Emily Park: "Consumers are drawn to the aesthetic appeal and convenience of stand-up pouches with value added features such as spouts, zippers, or handles." The lighter weight, reduced material use and lower shipping cost of stand-up pouches relative to rigid packaging also benefit producers of packaged goods. Among flat pouches, four-side-seal pouches are expected to post the fastest gains, particularly in developing areas.
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to show the largest gains in pouch demand through 2018. Rapid increases in the output of packaged food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods, coupled with a greater emphasis on convenient, eye-catching packaging, will support strong gains in pouch demand. The more affluent countries in the region - such as Japan and South Korea - were relatively early users of pouches over bags and rigid packaging; however, the strongest growth is expected in developing nations such as China, Thailand, and India. Gains in other industrializing regions - Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and the Africa/Mideast region - will be faster than those expected in North America and Western Europe.
Gains in North America and Western Europe are expected to be more limited, as pouch usage rates are already high. However, a shift in product mix will support sustained growth in pouch demand in these regions, as consumers continue to favor more expensive products such as stand-up pouches or value added pouches. Producers of packaged goods will also favor stand-up and specialty pouches as these products can offer improved aesthetics and marketing advantages and are often associated with lower shipping costs than those for rigid packaging.