Demand for aseptic packaging in the US is projected to rise 6.8% per year to $6.4 billion in 2020, with unit demand reaching 68.5 billion on annual gains of 3.7%. Growth will be driven by advantages in processing, as well as the ability of products in aseptic packaging to be distributed and stored at ambient temperatures.  Demand gains will also be based on drug sterility requirements. The increased availability of biotechnology-based injectable drugs necessitates aseptic filling and packaging because such drugs tend to be heat-sensitive, making the high temperatures used in terminal sterilization processes unfeasible. Competition from well-established hot-fill and retort processing operations and relatively high equipment costs will moderate growth, though machinery costs have come down in recent years. These and other trends are presented in Aseptic Packaging, a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Pharmaceuticals comprised the largest market for aseptic packaging in 2015, accounting for 61% of total demand. Through 2020, growth will be aided by opportunities with heat-sensitive, advanced injectable and infusion therapies and trends toward self-administration of injectable drugs for chronic conditions. “Prefillable syringes will experience the fastest gains among all aseptic packaging product types, reflecting continued life science innovations that will broaden the range of potential drugs adaptable to prefillable syringes,” notes analyst Esther Palevsky.

Aseptic cartons will register solid increases, fueled by expanding dairy beverage applications, favorable consumption trends in ready-to-drink premium wellness beverages, and product differentiation advantages. Prospects for bags and pouches will be driven by opportunities for bag-in-box and other large format aseptic bags used in the packaging of products sold to the foodservice and food processing industries. Plastic bottle demand growth will be in line with the overall average, the result of expanding food and beverage applications, especially in the dairy market, and of ongoing requirements for aseptic filling for ophthalmic solutions. Cups are expected to record below average growth due to increased competition from pouches in the baby food and processed fruit and vegetable segments.