European market for plastic bottles grows

European market for plastic…
Plastic bottles are an important packaging material in many sectors. Beverages, foodstuffs, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals as well as household and industrial chemicals can be packaged and sold in plastic bottles. Market analysts at Ceresana expect the volume of the European market to increase to approx. 170 billion units in 2020.

Plastic bottles ever more popular

The bottle industry is capitalizing on the popularity of single-use PET bottles in particular, which has considerably gained market shares in the previous eight years already. The quality of plastic bottles is improving continuously; thus, they gain access to segments that traditionally used other materials. Plastic containers are becoming more important, not only in the segment beverages, but also to the foodstuffs, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals industry. New filling technologies and the development of heat-resistant PET bottles open up new possibilities and options. While PET bottles are very common in the sector beverages, cosmetics, sanitary products, and detergents are predominantly sold in bottles made of polyethylene. This polymer is also used in the production of bottles for milk.

Growth markets in Eastern Europe

An increase of population and a rising standard of life in some Eastern European countries, combined with the spread of a westernized way of consuming, have positive effects on demand for plastic bottles. In Eastern European countries, per capita consumption of packaged beverages still is considerably lower than in the west. This offers high growth potential for the future, which will have corresponding effects on demand for plastic bottles. An exception is the market share held by beer bottles made of PET, which already is higher than in Western Europe. This is partly due to Eastern European consumers, in general, accepting a shorter minimum durability of products.

Overall, demand for packaged consumer goods in Eastern Europe will continue to increase. Demand for plastics bottles in hygiene and cosmetics applications is expected to rise notably during the next few years. In many Western European countries, certain segments of the market for beverages, such as lemonades and water, are already relatively saturated. This results in comparatively low growth rates for these sectors.

Analysts at Ceresana forecast the largest growth potential in Western European countries for the segment Pharma and Cosmetics. Consumption of pharmaceutical drugs and other pharmaceutical products will rise, e.g. due to the increasing proportion of senior citizens. "We forecast demand in this segment to rise by more than 2.4% per year", explains Oliver Kutsch, CEO of Ceresana.

Packaging Size Versus Amount of Plastic

It has to be noted that the trend towards the consumption of convenience products, leading to smaller packaging sizes in certain consumer and product groups, is superimposed by a reversed trend that is due to the tense economic situation in many countries. Many consumers are buying bulk packs in order to save money.

The reduction of weight remains a declared goal of the industry, which will result in ecological effects in transport in particular. In regard to weight, plastics have a definite advantage over glass. Plastic bottles are also catching-up in areas such as gas barrier properties and protection against UV radiation. These factors are leading to plastic products increasing their share of the packaging market.