The global packaged food market is still rising, thanks to constantly changing consumer preferences and growing demand in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, and the global food packaging machinery market is continuing to ride its fortunes. With the packaged food industry worth between $4 and $5 trillion in 2014, analyst group TechNavio valued the global food packaging machinery market at $14 billion last year. It expects the market will reach $19 billion by 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 6%.
In the US alone, the packaged food industry was valued at $2.15 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $3.21 billion by 2019 -- a CAGR of 8.31%. While new customers of the food packaging equipment are more likely to be in Asia today, most of the industry's largest manufacturers -- and therefore innovation, mergers, and acquisition activity -- remain in the US.
TechNavio's report found that demand for food packaging machinery is being driven by trends toward smaller packages with less content as well as diverse, eye-catching container formats. This has raised sales for packaging machines that can work on a smaller scale and those that are flexible for use in different specifications of size and structure.
While the consumption of packaged food in North America and Europe has certainly reached market saturation points, frequently changing consumer trends ensure that there will always be markets and thus new machinery demand in those regions.
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In terms of rising demand for packaged food, however, the APAC region is the area to watch, as it represented 39.9% of global market share in 2014, with a majority of the business in China and Asia. Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) represented 34.6% of the world market, and the Americas took 25.4%. According to TechNavio Senior Analyst Sharan Raj, the growth in APAC is due to the increasing migration of rural populations to urban areas coupled with increases in disposable income and the growth of organized retailing.
"The market in the APAC region is one of the fastest-growing markets because of the high number of food packaging firms catering to a huge population," Raj told Design News. "Most of the packaging equipment vendors in the APAC region operate on a small scale."
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In Europe and North America, there is a need for advanced packaging technologies and thus a need for new equipment. These advanced technologies help fulfill the use of more innovative packaging materials (those with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, for example) that will extend the shelf life of products. Some even use biological and chemical sensors to monitor changes in temperature and moisture content. In addition, more advanced food packaging technologies are meeting supply chain and inventory technology by allowing packagers to build RFID tags into packaging films.
"Compared to traditional packing, advanced packaging reduces the loss and wastage of food to a great extent," Raj said. "Seafood, meat and poultry, dairy products, confectionery, fruits and vegetables, and ready-to-eat meals are the major applications of advanced packaging."
The demand for modular packaging machines is on the rise. These are systems that offer retrofit features so that parts can be easily replaced when they wear out or malfunction. Food packagers are ensured of better flexibility and security for their investments, as well as more standardization. Modular systems enable them to use lower-priced, thinner, and more flexible packaging materials that require less energy consumption during packaging processes. They are easier and cheaper to transport, too.
In addition, machinery buyers today are moving away from standalone machinery to equipment that allows them to perform more than one process. The changing themes -- equipment that does more with less to give food packagers more options, more value, and better quality -- will ensure robust growth of the global packaging machinery market in the years to come.
Tracey Schelmetic graduated from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. and began her long career as a technology and science writer and editor at Appleton & Lange, the now-defunct medical publishing arm of Simon & Schuster. Later, as the editorial director of telecom trade journal Customer Interaction Solutions (today Customer magazine) she became a well-recognized voice in the contact center industry. Today, she is a freelance writer specializing in manufacturing and technology, telecommunications, and enterprise software.
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