Two major factors influence commodity bi-oriented polyester (BOPET) film prices – the cost of raw materials (PTA and MEG) and supply/demand dynamics in the global BOPET film industry. PCI Films Consulting’s Quarterly Business Reports have been documenting film prices for almost 20 years and find that currently supply/demand dynamics rule the market.

After the supply shortages and rapid increases in commodity BOPET film prices in 2010/11, US buyers are relieved to see a recent return to a degree of ‘normality’. Prices for polyester raw materials are hardly moving and with US demand for flexible packaging only now returning to historic levels; it is the increasing volume of commodity BOPET film which is being made available that is driving current prices. New thin film extrusion capacity has been commissioned by Flex Americas S.A. de C.V. in Mexico, and there are two new thin film lines to be added in the US by the end of the year. As a result, 50% more volume should be available to film buyers in 2013, which should increase competition and help keep film costs more stable - good news for buyers of film.

In fact there has been virtually no upward price movement in the US over the past three quarters in any of the five flexible packaging substrate materials monitored by leading UK-based films experts, PCI Films Consulting. Their subscription-based global quarterly price series includes reviews of 80 gauge BOPP film, 48 gauge BOPET film, 60 gauge BOPA film, 28 gauge aluminum foil and 60gsm coated papers.

Trends over the past year to eighteen months have also been influenced by buyers at both the converter and packer level purchasing only what they immediately require in order to cut costs and reduce working capital.

The quarterly price series editor, Paul Gaster notes, “In a number of cases, buyers of film were caught out by the rapid rise in prices of BOPET film because they were monitoring raw material costs i.e. PTA and MEG, which hadn’t moved. The recent spike in film prices was purely supply/demand driven and therefore our series is likely to be more timely at picking up and understanding these key drivers”.