Global demand for pouches is projected to rise 6.2 percent annually to $37.3 billion in 2018. Growth will be driven by consumer and producer preferences for standup pouches over more traditional rigid packaging. The adoption of pouches with higher value features in developed markets – such as the US, Canada, Western Europe and Japan – will support gains in dollar terms. Faster growth is expected in China and other developing nations, where rising personal incomes coupled with expanding production of packaged goods will promote higher demand for pouches.

Flat pouches will continue to account for the majority of the market. Four-side-seal pouches are projected to show the fastest gains, supported by rising demand in the medical and pharmaceutical market; in food applications such as meat, poultry, seafood, sauces and condiments; and in consumer applications, such as soaps and toiletries. Demand for pillow pouches and three-side-seal pouches will also be supported by rising shipments of packaged food products, particularly from developing markets in the Asia/Pacific region. Advances in pouch characteristics (e.g., improved barrier structures and the incorporation of such convenience features as resealable closures, spouts and tear notches) and pouch manufacturing technology (e.g., machinery with increased line speeds) will continue to lower production costs, thereby making pouches more competitive with other forms of packaging, like cartons and cans. In general, however, flat pouch demand is expected to rise at a slower pace than demand for standup pouches, which are less established than flat pouches and offer a number of improved features.

Global demand for pouches is heavily impacted by trends within the various markets that use pouches in their packaging. Growth in the food market is expected to result from rising output of food and greater pouch adoption rates, particularly in developing parts of the world; however, because food applications are among the most mature end uses for pouch packaging, gains in the food market will be outpaced by gains in several of the smaller pouch markets.

The second largest market for pouches, representing 15 percent of total demand in 2013 – the medical and pharmaceutical market – is also expected to grow at a slower pace than the overall average, as the large, mature markets in the US and Western Europe will restrain gains at the global level. Faster growth in the medical and pharmaceutical market will be seen in developing markets -- particularly China -- as pharmaceutical and medical device output rises and as pouches are used at a higher rate.

Beverages are the third largest market for pouches at the global level, and accounted for 10 percent of total demand in 2013. Although pouches are somewhat well established in the beverage market, beverage pouch demand is expected to rise at a faster pace than demand in the food market as developing countries increase their output of processed beverage products in response to rising personal incomes and improved infrastructure. In both developed and emerging beverage markets, the convenience of single serving standup pouches – particularly those with added features such as built-in spouts and straws – will support rising demand for pouch-packaged beverages.

The Asia/Pacific region is expected to show the largest gains in pouch demand through 2018. Rapid increases in the output of packaged food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, coupled with a greater emphasis on convenient, eye-catching packaging, will support strong gains in pouch demand. The more affluent countries in the region, such as Japan and South Korea, were relatively early users of pouches over bags and rigid packaging; however, the strongest growth is expected in developing nations such as China, Thailand and India. Gains in other industrializing regions, like Central and South America, Eastern Europe and the Africa/Mideast region, will be faster than those expected in North America and Western Europe. Gains in North America and Western Europe are expected to be more limited, as pouch usage rates are already high. However, a shift in product mix will support sustained growth in pouch demand in these regions, as consumers continue to favor more expensive products such as standup pouches or value-added pouches.


This article originally appeared in Flexible Packaging magazine. Visit World Pouches was published in November 2014 by The Freedonia Group, Inc. Emily Park has been an industry analyst with The Freedonia Group for 3 years.