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Packaging is a system for corralling and protecting a product from damage. It plays a vital role in the safe storage and hygienic handling of a product. Moreover, it also provides protection from environmental factors such as dust, moisture, and wind. Apart from safeguarding the product, packaging also helps in marketing the product to customers. Elegant packaging design with various color schemes and designs has an impact on consumer demand as it can sway the preference of customers. Aesthetically appealing packaging is meant to reflect the quality of the product and hence serves both brand promotion and advertising purposes. Packaging is of two types, rigid and flexible. Flexible packaging is any package whose shape can be readily changed. Examples of flexible packaging include bags and pouches. Rigid packaging includes boxes, trays, cans, bottles, and pots and is the dominant market segment.

The packaging materials that are used commonly include plastic, metal, brick cartons, paper, cardboard, and glass. These materials are used in the various end-use industries depending on packaging requirements. For instance, aluminum and tin are used to store food & beverages in cans owing to corrosion resistant properties of these metals which ensure that the product is not contaminated. Similarly, alcohol is typically stored and sold in glass bottles as they look visually appealing and have a longer shelf life than plastic bottles.

The end users of packaging materials include food beverages, electronics, pharmaceuticals, personal care, textile, consumer goods, and chemical processing. The largest end user of packaging materials is the food and beverages industry owing to increasing demand for packaged food in emerging economies. Pharmaceutical companies rely on packaging in order to protect and promote their products, meet regulations, and increase patient compliance. Especially, the use of plastic is preferred due to high dimensional stability, moisture barrier, strain resistance, low water absorption, and resistance to heat.

Plastic is the most used packaging material. It is also lightweight, strong and cheap to procure in the current market. Plastic packaging materials are manufactured from petroleum and its derivatives, and are used in various end user industries. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used as primary feedstock in the manufacture of plastic bottles which finds large application in food & beverages, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries due to its high durability, light weight, low cost and recyclability. However, stringent government regulations imposed on the petroleum and chemicals industry due to emissions of CO2 and greenhouse gases, and fluctuation of crude oil prices are the factors that expected to hinder the growth of the global plastic packaging market. However, plastics are non-biodegradable and end up in landfills. Therefore, a shift towards sustainable packaging materials such as paper, paperboard, cardboard, metal and glass has been observed in the recent past. Utilization of sustainable packaging in increasing due to growing environmental awareness among the populace.


The growing disposable income, increasing consumer preference for packaged goods, and the expanding retail industry, especially in Asia Pacific and Latin America, are factors that are favouring growth of this industry. For instance, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation (is a Trust established by the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India), the retail market in India is expected to nearly double to US$ 1 trillion by 2020 from US$ 600 billion in 2015.

Also, increasing awareness regarding food contamination has intensified the packaging market growth. Asia Pacific is the largest and fastest growing market. The advent of online shopping and consumption of cosmetics has resulted in a booming market in countries such as India, China, and Indonesia. Moreover, the “Make in India” campaign by the Indian government is expected to have a positive impact on the growth of the packaging industry in India. North America is a leading market for paper packaging. The industry in North America recycles up to 70% of its used paper, according to the U.S. Forest and Paper Association. In Europe, the European Paper Recycling Council aims to achieve 74% recycling in the European Union. The paper packaging industry in North America and Europe is expected to serve as a model for emerging markets.


The environmental concerns regarding plastic packaging are expected to hamper growth of the packaging industry to some extent. Moreover, the preferred substitute to plastic is paper which, although recyclable, involves logging of forest areas. This has resulted in stringent packaging regulations. Constantly fluctuating oil price is also affecting the market growth. Also, leaching of chemicals from packaging into the product is a major concern. Cases of toxic packaging have been observed in China which has affected consumer demand.

Regulatory Scenario

Stringent government regulations and time consuming approval process before launching commercially, has led manufacturers to obtain approvals prior to distribution. For instance;

  • China: The Food Safety Law 2009 contains provisions requiring clean and non-toxic packaging materials and penalties for marketing food that is contaminated by packaging materials.
  • India: Ministry of Environment and Forests banned use of plastic packaging for tobacco products. Also, the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags increased from 20 microns to 40 microns.
  • EU: The EU Packaging Directive (94/62/EC as amended) seeks to promote the recovery and recycling of packaging waste.

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