New demands from consumer markets are driving high-barrier film consumption to grow annually by 4.6%

Global high-barrier packaging film consumption was projected at 1.86 million tonnes in 2016 and is forecast to grow during 2016–2021 at an annual rate of 4.6% to 2.33 million tonnes, according to Smithers Pira.

Smithers Pira’s report – The Future of High-Barrier Packaging Films to 2021 – forecasts the materials market used to produce high-barrier packaging films to grow at an annual rate of 4.7% across 2016-2021 to reach a value of around $11.32 billion up from $9.0 billion in 2016. Market value growth is forecast to increase at a slightly higher rate than material consumption due to faster anticipated growth for higher cost films.

Consumers’ growing need for convenience and product safety are driving demand growth for high-barrier packaging film. Busier consumer lifestyles and the consequent demand for convenience products, together with the popularity of microwave cooking have, contributed, for example to growing use of microwaveable retort ready meals packed in trays and stand-up pouches. High-barrier flexible packaging products, such as retort pouches, are challenging rigid pack formats, such as metal tins and glass jars, for a wide range of food products.

David Platt report author

Material producers continue to innovate with new and improved plastic films and additives for packaging production. These include high-barrier and foil replacement films, sealant films and films that are more easily recyclable. A reduction in material usage is another key trend throughout the packaging and pouch-making industry, either through thinner films or fewer film layers.

The growing dominance of large retail chains in developing and developed national markets is also expanding the market for packaged food with their emphasis on cost control and shelf life extension.

Simultaneously sustainable packaging and source reduction aimed at lowering the environmental impact of packaging have become key goals for brand owners. These trends are encouraging the uptake of high-barrier plastic packaging film, including a wider use of packaging based on sustainable resources.

Consumer demand for food with a longer shelf life and high quality has led to the development of increasingly sophisticated multilayer film structures. Recycling becomes a particular problem with multimaterial structures containing more than one type of plastic, as these are difficult to separate with the equipment installed in contemporary material recovery facilities (MRFs). However, new solutions are becoming commercially available for recycling multilayer high-barrier packaging film.

The Future of High-Barrier Packaging Films to 2021 report examines global market trends for high-barrier packaging films for the period 2011–2016 and presents forecasts for the five-year period from 2016–2021. Market forecasts are presented by high-barrier polymer type, packaging product, end-use sector and geographic region. The report also includes analyses of industry structure, major market participants, market drivers and trends, and cutting-edge technology developments.


The Future of High-Barrier Packaging Films to 2021 is available for £4,500.

For press enquiries or a more detailed article, please contact Julie Bostock:
Tel: +44 (0) 1372 802 035  jbostock@smithers.com

Smithers Pira is the worldwide authority on packaging, paper and print industry supply chains. Established in 1930, Smithers Pira provides strategic and technical consulting, testing, intelligence and events to help clients gain market insights, identify opportunities, evaluate product performance and manage compliance.