A new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. (www.freedoniagroup.com) demonstrates this trend. Food and beverages are the largest market for rigid packaging; the two combined represented 64% of the total rigid packaging demand for 2011. Gains are anticipated for plastic bottles and containers due to the cost and performance benefits, along with continued development of food-grade materials. Demand for rigid packaging for the pharmaceutical segment is also expected to see growth, as a result of rapid expansion of pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities, particularly in Asia.

In terms of materials, plastic will continue to account for the largest share of demand and will also see the fastest increases, as plastic containers gain market share at the expense of metal, paperboard, and glass packaging in many applications. Still, metal cans will remain an important segment of the rigid packaging mix due to their durability, long shelf life, tamper resistance, ease of storage, recyclability and the economic advantages of canned items in controlling food expenditures. Opportunities for paperboard rigid packaging will reflect a competitive price structure, suitability for high quality graphics, and a favorable environmental profile. 

The most rapid increases in demand for rigid packaging will be seen in the world's developing regions. In particular, the Asia/Pacific region will post the fastest growth and remain the largest market due to its large food and beverage industries. In contrast, market maturity in developed countries (as well as market saturation in bedrock applications such as bottled and canned beers and carbonated soft drinks) will serve to prevent faster gains in rigid packaging demand. Overall, some of the highest growth rates are expected in India, China and Indonesia, with Brazil, Turkey, Russia and Mexico also expected to see healthy gains. China alone will account for 46% of global value gains in rigid packaging demand between 2011 and 2016.