Folding cartons will see an average annual growth rate of 7.9% in BRIC (Brazil, India, China, Russia) between 2010 and 2016. Overall actual consumption of cartonboard as measured by converter sales will grow by an average of 4.4% annually from 2010 to 2016, with Asia showing the strongest growth at 6.5% over the period. Total actual consumption (conversion net of trade) of cartonboard amounted to 40 million tones (a tonne is 2,204 lb, or about 10% more than the U.S. ton) in 2010, worth $78 billion.

A new study from Pira The Future of Folding Cartons: Market Forecasts to 2016 – shows how global production has increased by an average of almost 2.5% a year since 2005 and totaled over 43 million tonnes in 2010. Asia accounted for 45% of the total volume, followed by America and Europe with a combined total of 52%.

The major end-use markets for folding cartons exhibit their own micro-demographic trends that are affecting demand. In the dry food market, modernizing of retail systems in developing regions will boost overall product consumption and an increase in demand for higher-quality graphics, coupled with demand for smaller packs, may boost folding carton consumption. Pira also sees further potential for growth from barrier coating technology and the ‘bagless box’.

Cartons see growth in developing markets

According to Pira, limited retail infrastructure in the developing regions is likely to be the most significant hindrance to higher growth in folding carton demand in both frozen foods and ready meals. Nevertheless, increased use of refrigeration by consumers in developing countries, plus a gradual improvement in infrastructure, is expected to boost folding cartons in both markets, as well as in dairy product packaging.

Although consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need for healthier alternatives to the traditional bakery product line-up, and cartons face stiff competition from flexible packaging in this sector, the ‘bagless box’ may provide opportunities for development.

At end-user level, demand for folding cartons will show average annual growth of 4.4% during 2010-16. The highest growth sectors in percentage terms will be spirits, health care, confectionery, tobacco, hardware and chilled food. The lowest growth will be in pet food, soft drinks, savory snacks and baked products, all of which face growing competition from flexible packaging.