Steady growth in consumer markets will buoy the sack and kraft paper industry to produce growth of around 3% annually between 2016 to 2021, according to the latest report from Smithers Pira. This growth will push global market value to $80 billion in 2021, up from $66 billion in 2016.
Smithers Pira’s new report, “The Future of Sack and Kraft Paper to 2021,” identifies how expansion is being driven by numerous factors. The demand for higher-quality graphics is pressuring papermakers to develop innovative solutions to provide suitable and appropriate printing surfaces. This includes the evolution of digital printing technology for the sack and kraft segment, which is creating opportunities for converters and challenges for papermakers.
Report author Stephen Harrod notes that environmental concerns are also helping transform this industry. “Adoption of sustainability practices has been fairly widespread throughout much of the kraft and sack paper industry, and many suppliers now sport a plethora of environmental certificates in various forms,” he says.
Notes the report, as environmental pressures become ever greater, it is possible that kraft and sack paper manufacturers may start to develop entire product ranges marketed on a sustainability platform.
“In addition to sourcing from sustainably-managed forests, some kraft paper producers have also made attempts to increase the amount of recycled material used in the manufacturing of their products,” Harrod adds.
According to the study, operating in parallel pressure to reduce costs is leading to technological advances that now enable much lighter weights of paper to achieve the same results. Grammages (GSM) are declining significantly in some cases from 55 GSM to as low as 20 GSM. This shift to lighter weights increases the importance of sheet uniformity, bulk and thickness, absorbency, opacity, dimensional stability, surface finish, and printability.
The reduction in volume caused by downgauging is, however, mitigated by the trend to smaller pack sizes, as smaller packs tend to use more material to hold the same contents, the report notes. This trend also increases the demand for other consumables, such as inks and adhesives, adding more value to the sack and kraft segment for packaging converters. This evolution is being driven by demographic changes worldwide, where there is a general increase in single parent families and smaller family units. Such downsizing is also being supported by health and safety concerns, with many 50-kg industrial packs being reduced to 25-kg content weights for this reason.