With an annual rate of 3.4 percent, flexible-packaging-industry growth is back on track, says the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA, www.flexpack.org), Linthicum, Md. FPA notes that growth in this sector typically outpaces the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
As the second-largest segment of the U.S. packaging industry, flexible packaging is currently valued at $25.4 billion in total U.S. sales. The association forecasts industry sales will increase in 2012 to $26.7 billion. Of course, challenges exist. The most pressing, FPA says, is availability and swings in prices of resin, film and other materials. Other challenges include concerns about the U.S. and world economies, skilled labor availability, competition, and consolidation of customers and suppliers.
As the U.S. economy continues to recover, however, FPA believes significant growth opportunities exist for flexible packaging in domestic and emerging markets. Excellence and innovation will drive opportunities. In 2012, FPA has honored the technology behind Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn Pop Up Bowl with its Highest Achievement award, as well as the Gold Award for Packaging Excellence and Gold Award for Technical Innovation. Manufacturers of the pop-up bowl include Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods Inc.; and Phoenix Packaging Operations LLC, Dublin, Va., a division of South America-based Grupo Phoenix.
FPA notes the Highest Achievement Award goes to packaging contributing most to the advancement of the industry. About the pop-up bowl, FPA says, “The patent-pending design . . . is the most complex lamination ever produced for high-volume microwave-popcorn packages.”
An event contributing to the entire packaging industry’s advancement is Pack Expo International, sponsored by the Reston, Va.-based Packaging Machinery Manufacturing Institute (www.pmmi.org). This year’s show (www.packexpo.com) will be held Oct. 28-31 at McCormack Place in Chicago.
C. Kenna Amos, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an Automation World Contributing Editor.