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Markets To Watch: Pharmaceutical Packaging and Plastic Containers


Packaging is one of the biggest markets in North America, and it's safe from offshore manufacturing. It covers a variety of products including food and beverage, pharmaceutical and a whole range of containers that hold everything imaginable.

Pharmaceutical packaging represents a small percentage of the overall market, but it is critical to the types of products that are packaged. Many so-called "packages" are essential drug delivery systems and are part of the safety and reliability of pharmaceuticals. The global pharmaceutical market is expected to see an increase of 8 percent from 2012 to 2017 to reach a value of $85 billion by 2017, according to a market report at Markets and Markets, a global research and consulting firm.

This growth is expected to be fueled by off-patenting of drugs and the expanding generics market. Currently, there are a lot of technology innovations and advancements in manufacturing processes and integrations, which are creating a surge in demand and growth of the pharmaceutical packaging industry globally.

The fastest growth in the pharmaceutical packaging market is expected to come from prefillable syringes and parenteral vials, which continue to expand with advances in biotechnology. Safety is a big concern since counterfeit drugs still proliferate the marketplace. Moldmakers will be involved with creating molds for preventative measures, such as in-mold labels that hold holographic symbols, product identification and security codes.

The packaging will have to overcome challenges including the availability and price volatility of raw materials and changing health regulations in order to meet increasing demand from the growing pharmaceutical industry, said the report.

US demand for plastic containers is forecasted to increase 4.9 percent annually to $32.4 billion, according to the latest report from The Freedonia Group, an industry market research firm. Growth will be driven by performance advantages over alternative packaging formats, as well as a recovery in the broader economy.

While plastic containers will face increased competition from pouches and other types of flexible packaging, these will often augment rather than replace rigid containers. PET and HDPE are the leading plastic container resins, accounting for a combined 86 percent of demand. Through 2016, plastic bottle and jar demand is expected to rise 2.8 percent per year to 165 billion units, moderated by the already dominant position of plastic in many applications, with few new areas existing for large-scale conversions.

Among major bottle and jar markets, the fastest gains are anticipated for pharmaceutical and food applications, noted The Freedonia Group's report.

Reprinted with permission from the American Mold Builders Association.