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Smithers Pira Forecasts Industrial Packaging Industry to Grow by 3.2 Percent to 2022




New analysis from Smithers Pira shows that the industrial printing market will grow steadily across 2017-2022, despite significant evolution of supply chains.

Exclusive data from the latest Smithers Pira market report ‘The Future of Industrial Packaging to 2022’ [] projects worldwide industrial packaging sales will be worth $52.72 billion in 2017. This value is forecast to grow across the next five years at an annual rate of 3.2% to reach $61.84 billion in 2022. The materials used to produce industrial packaging formats – sacks, IBCs, drums, crates/totes – are 14.56 million tonnes in 2017, this is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 2.7% across the same period to reach 16.62 million tonnes.

Consumption increases will continue to be driven primarily by the faster-growing transition economies of Asia, Central & Eastern Europe and Africa, rather than the more mature advanced economies of Western Europe, North America and Japan.

Despite this impression of stability, complex dynamics are acting to restructure the industrial packaging sector.

The report author, David Platt, explains: ‘Gradual changes along the supply chain that have been brought about by market and technology developments will have implications for the future of industrial packaging formats and markets. These include 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the switch to dimensional weight pricing in the consumer parcel shipping business.’

‘A deeper disruption is the increasing automation of industrial shipment chains – part of the broader technology trend toward Industry 4.0 – including the merging of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, combining cyber-physical systems, the IoT and cloud computing. As a key part of the supply chain, the packaging industry really needs to be aware of what changes in the fourth industrial revolution are likely to be, and how these will impact on processes and profits.’


Sacks are the largest container format used for industrial packaging, with over one quarter of sales in 2017. Crates/totes is the second largest container format for sales, followed by drums, and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). IBCs are predicted to grow at the fastest rate, along with drums across the Smithers forecast period.

Flexible IBCs will register steady growth due to the advantages they offer in terms of efficiency, loading and unloading products. Overall, however, rigid industrial packaging containers are forecast to grow at a faster rate than flexible formats.

Plastic drums will post above-average gains based on cost and performance advantages over fibre and steel drums. In the industrial packaging sector, a key concern is the overall protection provided by the packaging, particularly when dealing with the transport of hazardous materials. Thus degree of substitution from steel to plastic drums for transportation of industrial products is limited because of safety regulations that apply to various hazardous products. In instances where this switching is plausible, the relative cost of steel versus plastic remains the principal driver.

Sustainability is gaining traction in the industrial packaging market, with mounting public pressure on governments, brand owners and retailers to reduce the environmental impact of packaging. The industry is continuing to focus on reuse and reconditioning of industrial packaging, rather than downgauging to cut its carbon footprint.



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