We chatted to Stephen Harrod, author of Smithers’ latest packaging report, The Future of Folding Cartons to 2028
, about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the cartons industry.
Stephen Harrod spent 11 years building a market research company in South Africa, focused on the paper and packaging industry in that country, following which he spent six years in the paper industry with Mondi and JAC Labels before relocating to the UK. He has been authoring reports for Smithers since 2006, with a focus on global paper and packaging markets.
Where are the growth opportunities for the folding carton market?
The cosmetics and toiletries markets are looking interesting for folding cartons at present. Consumers want to see what they perceive as sustainable packaging in this market in particular, and brand owners are responding accordingly. Other sectors showing promise include fresh produce, where plastic punnets are being replaced with folding carton variants, and consumer electronics which consistently shows steady growth and favours folding carton and microflute. Confectionery is interesting as well – approaching cost of living increases tend to stimulate the confectionery market which is seen as ‘affordable treats’ by consumers.
Sustainability is the largest pressure on the packaging industry at the moment, how do folding cartons fit in with this
Very favourably; cosmetics, fresh produce, and confectionery are all growing in favour of folding carton and largely driven by the demand for sustainability.
Can the industry keep pace with the increased demand from consumers for paper packaging?
We are currently looking at some ten million tonnes of excess capacity compared to current demand, and there are some healthy-looking new paper machines on the horizon in the announced plans from some of the major players in this market. Other capacities such as coating are also being upgraded so there should be more than enough room in the market to absorb the anticipated growth in consumption.
What do the next five years look like for the folding carton industry?
Some good growth in demand is anticipated, driven by the issues we have talked about. Replacement of plastic packs is set to provide a good growth platform for these fibre-based packaging formats, together with the general growing popularity for these materials due to the real and perceived sustainability benefits..