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U.S. demand for rigid bulk packaging to reach $7.2 billion in 2020

New rigid bulk packaging study reveals that pharmaceutical and chemical production will expand demand for rigid bulk packaging.

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Demand for rigid bulk packaging in the U.S. is expected to expand 3.3% per year to $7.2 billion in 2020, spurred primarily by a favorable production outlook for chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the largest market for rigid bulk packaging products. The popularity of reusable systems, which are sold at a higher price than products intended for single use, will sustain value gains, though a less frequent replacement rate will mitigate growth somewhat. These and other trends are presented in “Rigid Bulk Packaging,” a new study from The Freedonia Group.

Pails will hold the largest portion of total rigid bulk packaging demand, due to their performance and cost advantages in small-volume applications. These benefits allow them to either be reused or disposed of, depending on the preference of the user.

“The availability of both steel and plastic models, as well as pails with removable and non-removable heads, also provides flexibility in applications,” says analyst Katie Wieser.

Rigid intermediate bulk containers (RIBCs) are expected to see the fastest growth through 2020, boosted by the preference for reusable systems and the advantages of these containers over drums in terms of storage and shipping efficiency. However, drums will remain an important part of the packaging mix due to their frequent use in a number of chemical markets and, in the case of steel drums, their amenability to international shipping regulations and practices. Plastic drums will see the fastest gains based on their light weight and the performance advantages of plastic in terms of cleanliness and durability.

Prospects for all rigid bulk-packaging formats will be mitigated by competition from flexible formats, such as flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs), shipping sacks, and large pouches. Flexible formats can provide cost savings to the user due not only to their lower price, but also to their lower weight, which can reduce costs related to shipping. Flexible formats will make inroads into markets that have a high concentration of dry or solid products that do not require substantial protection.

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