With strong merger and acquisition activity, 2019 was another year of industry consolidation.

Over the past 10 years, the flexible packaging industry has grown from $26.6 billion to $31.8 billion with a cumulative annual growth rate of 2% per year, according to the FPA.

2020 Top 25 Converters chart

The flexible packaging converting sector continued its strong growth trajectory in 2019, mainly due to increased technological advancements as well as convenience and customization efforts, making flexible packaging preferable to more consumer products than they were historically.

As expected, the ranking of the top 25 converters has shifted from the previous year, especially since the year 2019 saw substantial merger and acquisition activity.

The most talked about acquisition of 2019 was Amcor’s purchase of Bemis Co., the number one converter of 2018, finalized in June 2019.

Amcor chief executive officer, Ron Delia, described the acquisition as, “a significant milestone as two strong companies with histories each dating back over 150 years look forward to one great future.”

Bemis president and CEO, William F. Austen, said, “The combination of Bemis and Amcor is transformational, bringing together two highly complementary organizations to create a global leader in consumer packaging. We believe this combination, which is an exciting growth story for both companies, will benefit all stakeholders.

According to Mesirow Financial, private equity-backed flexible packaging converters are driving deal volume. C-P Flexible Packaging, PPC Flexible Packaging and ProAmpac, all private equity-backed, are actively pursuing buy-and-build strategies. Relative to the other forms of packaging, flexible may have the most growth potential due to the value it adds in reducing food waste, extending shelf life and decreasing shipping costs.

Novolex Holdings, Inc., founded by Leon Farahnik in 2003 and headquartered in Hartsville, S.C., holds the number one spot for the second consecutive year. 2019 saw the acquisition of Zenith Specialty Bags, now part of Bagcraft, Novolex.

Berry Global moved from number five to the third top spot largely due to the July 2019 acquisition of one of Europe’s largest supplier of plastic packaging, RPC Group. Berry’s chairman and CEO, Tom Salmon, said, “Fiscal 2019 was a transformative year for Berry, marked by the successful completion of the RPC acquisition along with our intense effort and focus on driving sustainable solutions for our customers.”

Inland Packaging, a 75-year-old, family-owned label converter headquartered in La Crosse, WI, is a newcomer to the list this year. Inland announced it was a converter member of the Flexible Packaging Association in April 2016.