Smithers Pira’s latest market report, “The Future of Specialty Papers to 2024” claims that flexible packaging will maintain a strong growth among all subcategories in the global specialty papers industry as the highly fragmented customer base in North America begins to consolidate, and more traditional commodity paper mills are entering the flexible packaging market.
Flexible packaging, as seen in the report, is the largest segment within the global specialty papers industry and is expected to have a CAGR of 2.4% in the next five years, pushing overall consumption in flexible packaging applications from 4.72 million metric tons to 5.32 million metric tons.
Specialty paper grades fall into 10 broad classifications:
- Décor, including wallpapers and coverings
- Flexible packaging, including lightweight food papers
- C1S packaging, like retail and food containerboard
- Printing labels, as in self-adhesive and gummed labelstock
- Release liners
- Specialty printing, including direct thermal
- Filtration, i.e. automotive, industrial, coffee and tea
- Security, including check papers and postage stamps
- A catch-all category simply titled ‘others’, including cigarette paper and gift wrap
The Smithers Pira report says that among these classifications, C1S packaging is the largest and fastest-growing market in the Asia-Pacific region, predominantly in China and India, and it will be critical in pushing total global demand to 2.71 million metric tons by 2024, projecting a 2.7% CAGR across the five-year period.
Most major categories of specialty papers Smithers Pira found will grow across 2019–24, but at different rates. However, while impressive growth in flexible packaging is expected, security papers will continue to decline in many developed countries—particularly banknotes and check papers—as electronic payments, credit cards, and email communications continue to shift consumer preferences away from physical paper media.
As the global printing and writing paper industry contracts, specialty paper grades, along with tissue and packaging, are the current engines for growth in the pulp and paper industry, according to the report. Some traditional specialty sectors, however, are in decline in many regions. These include postage stamps and photographic base papers.