US demand to rise 1.9% annually through 2016
US demand for plastic film is expected to grow 1.9 percent annually to 16 billion pounds in 2016, with a market value of $19 billion. Expansion of the market will be fostered by an acceleration in economic growth and an increase in consumer spending, which will drive demand for film used in diverse applications such as retail sales, manufacturing, and construction.
Advances will also be helped by an increase in the use of film in packaging, where it offers advantages in cost, performance, and source reduction over other packaging materials. The versatility of plastic film increasingly allows for the downgauging of packaging, reducing the amount of material needed and lowering production and shipping costs, while maintaining desired characteristics.
Although this expands the presence of plastic film in the market, it also reduces the volume of film needed, limiting growth.
LLDPE will remain most widely used plastic film
Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) will remain the most widely used film, representing almost 50 percent of demand in 2016. Demand for LLDPE film is forecast to register strong advances through 2016. Due to its relatively low cost and versatility, LLDPE will see gains in diverse markets such as packaging for snack foods and produce, medical and pharmaceutical products, and stretch and shrink wraps. Conventional low density polyethylene (LDPE) will grow at a slower pace as it is supplanted by better performing LLDPE in many applications.
High density polyethylene (HDPE) is expected to grow at an above average pace through 2016. Although constrained by slow growth in applications such as retail bags, HDPE film will exhibit gains in packaging for snack foods, baked goods, and grain mill products.
Demand for polypropylene film will also be above average through the forecast period, with packaging for snack foods, baked goods, and grain mill products the leading applications. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film demand will remain essentially unchanged, with increases in packaging demand for snack foods, dairy products, and frozen food offset by the continued decline in demand for photographic and magnetic film.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film demand is expected to grow at a below average rate through 2016, primarily due to packaging for medical products and shrink wrap applications. Degradable plastic film will experience the fastest growth at more than 10 percent per annum through 2016, driven by efforts to develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly products.
Nonfood packaging to be fastest growing market
Plastic film demand in nonfood packaging is forecast to grow at the fastest rate of all film markets, driven by packaging for medical products and pharmaceuticals needed to care for an aging population. Solid growth is also expected for food packaging with the fastest gains in weight saving pouches for beverages, packaging for frozen foods and confections, and packages designed to extend the shelf life of produce and dairy. Nonpackaging applications will expand at a slightly below average rate, limited by slow growth in trash bags and other applications such as disposable diapers. Growth in secondary packaging will also be below average, constrained by efforts to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic retail bags.