Plastic film, used for packaging of both food and non-food products apart from various other plastic products, is the largest sub-sector of the plastics processing industry. Primary applications of plastic films include food packaging, shrink-wrap, stretch-wrap, carrier bags, bin bags, and heavy-duty sacks, and agriculture and building applications. Globalization and consolidation have impacted the plastic film industry to a considerable extent.
Changing consumer dynamics and patterns are revolutionizing the food-packaging market, which is witnessing an increased preference for plastic film and sheets, compared to other flexible packaging materials such as kraft paper, aluminum foil and cellophane film. Further, this trend is slowly gaining ground in non-food packaging applications as well, where increased use of BOPP films in cigarette manufacturing exemplifies the development. BOPP films represents one of the high-growth segments in the global plastic film & sheets industry. Over the near term, BOPP production capacity is estimated to expand by 2-3 million tons, with the Middle East accounting for the bulk of the capacity expansion. Growth in the BOPP film market is driven by rising demand from Asia, particularly from China and India, and other developing regions such as Latin America and Eastern Europe. Amongst the BOPP film market, stretch film machinery segment continues to witness exceptional growth. Cast film continues to make inroads into those application areas that are historically led by BOPP film. Significant advancements in process capabilities coupled with enhanced resins and improved equipment have filled most of the wide existing gap between BOPP film and Cast PP film. The second-generation LLDPE products are likely to substitute plastics in film and other non-plastics because it offers improved properties such as greater degree of film toughness, processability, clarity and lower cost.
Flat panel displays (FPDs) and packaging applications are leading to robust growth in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) films segment, particularly in the developing countries. Spurred by high demand for PET films in Asian countries such as China and India, Asia is witnessing an intense battle between Japanese and South Korean PET films players. Emergence of several new players in the Indian and Chinese markets is likely to further intensify the battle for supremacy.
The Asia-Pacific represents immense growth potential, capturing the largest slice of the global market, as stated by the new market research report on Plastic Film and Sheets. Developing markets such as China, India and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region are rapidly emerging as dominant forces in the world plastic film & sheets industry. The trend can be witnessed in BOPP film, in which China replaced the US as the largest producer and consumer. Asia-Pacific region is also primed to race ahead at the strongest compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3% through 2017.
By product, the Polyethylene (PE) Films is considered the building block and accounts for the lion's share of the worldwide plastic films and sheet market. Asia and the Middle East are the main regions, expected to drive growth in this segment, with PE capacity in Asia slated to expand swiftly, based on LLDPE swing capacity. On the other hand, polypropylene (PP) films that are considered one of the most versatile and low cost barrier films in packaging and non-packaging markets display high potential and are slated to grow at a vibrant pace of 5.5% over the analysis period.