Converted flexible packaging demand in the US is projected to increase 2.2 per cent/year, to 7.5 billion pounds in 2005, valued at $14.5 billion. Advances will be stimulated by new developments such as breathable films for fresh produce and meats, reclosable stand-up pouches and microwaveable wraps.

These and other trends are presented in Freedonia’s new study, ‘Converted Flexible Packaging.

It says plastics films will extend their dominance, with PE and PP presenting the best opportunities, based on extensive markets and the availability of improved materials, including metallocene grades. Although demand for paper packaging will expand only marginally, it will remain an important player, due to its low cost, environmental compatibility and use in laminations. Converted flexible packaging advances over the next decade will encompass better sealing and barrier properties, improved mechanical strength and printing surfaces, and lower cost.

Demand for plastics film will grow nearly three per cent annually, to 5.6 billion pounds in 2005, as a result of improved film grades and greater performance properties compared with paper and foil. PE will remain dominant, although much better growth is anticipated for PP. EVOH films will exhibit the best growth, based on more demanding barrier requirements. Cellophane will continue its volume decline due to competition from PP and other films, which offer performance and cost advantages.

Food packaging markets are forecast to increase 2.4 per cent/year to 5.7 billion pounds in 2005. Demand in non food applications will rise at a below average pace, says Freedonia, yet opportunities in areas such as drug, health and beauty aid products will exist on account of growing barrier requirements.