The global micro packaging market is poised to benefit from trends prevalent in various industries associated with personalized or customized packaging solutions. Technological advancements across industries, including cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, have been creating a significant demand for an increased need for advanced packaging solutions such as micro packaging around the world.
The process of micro packaging involves the incorporation of nano-materials, including films and nano-coatings, to achieve high-barrier solutions in the packaging space. Thus, micro packaging is relatively new as a concept and presents lucrative growth opportunities in virtually all verticals concerning the packaging industry. The micro-packaging industry is expected to benefit from advancements in technology, most notably in the healthcare sector, owing to the increasing popularity of efficient and advanced packaging solutions.
Various factors catalyze the growth of the industry. The most prominent among them is the increasing adoption rate in the pharmaceutical packaging industry, backed by the rising popularity of nano-enabled packaging. Furthermore, advancements in drug delivery systems paired with the development of novel biochemical compounds in the pharmaceutical industry have been necessitating the employment of micro packaging materials. The integration of nano-engineered materials helps ensure drug safety for extended durations by delaying oxidation, controlling microbial growth, and enhancing tamper visibility in packages.
Despite its positive outlook, the micro packaging industry is challenged by various factors that are likely to hinder its growth over the projected period. As micro packaging involves the employment of technologically advanced packaging techniques, the adoption of this packaging technique has been slow over the years, most notably in the food packaging space. From a manufacturing (packaging) standpoint, micro packaging demands high initial investments, thereby discouraging budget-constrained manufacturers from establishing a business. However, the pharmaceutical industry has been quick to adapt to trends in the micro packaging space owing to the increasing global demand for hygienic packaging.
As permeability is among the most critical aspects of packaging, the concept of micro packaging has been gaining increasing popularity across industries. The employment of micro packaging materials enhances the function of barrier protection as these materials are entirely permeable to water vapor, atmospheric gasses, or other natural substances that are present within the products that are being packaged. Such factors are expected to increase the adoption of micro packaging materials, notably in the food and pharmaceutical industries over the projected period.
On a macro level, the rising popularity of flexible packaging has been a prime contributor to the expansion of the micro packaging industry over the years. Flexible packaging helps reduce transport costs between the retailer, convertor, filler/packager, and end-user. In addition to considerable reductions in transport costs and material use, flexible packaging also allows for numerous performance advantages over rigid packaging. As high polymer prices and rising environmental pressures continue to drive the demand for thinner or micro packaging films, downgauging is expected to remain a key trend in the micro packaging industry in the foreseeable future.
The micro packaging industry continues to grow in conjunction with sophisticated graphic decoration and production processes. In this regard, end-use industries continue to attract more consumers around the world by capitalizing on the attractive printing offerings available within the industry. In the near future, the micro packaging industry is expected to benefit from new printing options with high-definition capabilities.
The industry is segmented based on the material (paper & paperboard, glass, metal, plastic, corrugated boxes, flexible paper, and others), application (films, vials, doy bags, others), end-user industry (food & beverage, personal care & cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and others) and region. Based on the end-user industry, the pharmaceutical segment is expected to grow at the fastest rate over the forecast period owing to the rising, increasing demand for the product in the Asia Pacific.
Based on material, the plastic segment dominated the micro packaging market in 2018 and is expected to retain its pole position over the forecast period. From a manufacturing standpoint, the production of plastic-based micro packaging products helps achieve economies of scale. However, key market participants have preferred sustainable materials to manufacture micro packaging products owing to rising environmental concerns over the years. Such trends are expected to surface throughout the forecast period, thereby prompting the growth of paper-based packaging segments.
In the past decade, there have been instances of development of sustainable materials in the micro packaging space. For example, in 2011, researchers at Texas A&M University developed a micro packaging film that featured a material comprising a soluble polymer, clay particles (70%), and water. This packaging was designed as an alternative to plastic-based micro packaging materials. It demonstrated superior barrier properties that were comparatively better than that of plastic- or glass-based micro packaging materials.
The Asia Pacific is likely to grow at the fastest rate over the forecast period. The regional micro packaging market is driven by the presence of dominant market participants catering to a large consumer base. The region is also anticipated to witness considerable growth in emerging economies such as South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia backed by increasing penetration of the pharmaceutical industry.
As regards competition, the industry is characterized by intense rivalry among prominent market participants. Some of the dominant players operating in the micro packaging market are Bemis Company, Inc., Tetra Pak International S.A., Bayer AG, Avery Dennison Corporation, and Amcor Limited, among others. Product innovation and portfolio expansion were some of the preferred strategies employed by prominent players in the market to remain competitive in the market.
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