Global corrugated box demand to rise 3.4% annually through 2013
World demand for corrugated boxes is forecast to increase 3.4 percent per year to 213 billion square meters in 2013, in line with real (inflation-adjusted) gains in GDP. Factors contributing to rising box demand will include growth in industrial activities, particularly the manufacturing sector, which often requires corrugated packaging to protect and transport goods. In addition, ongoing developments in small flute and high-quality graphic board will allow corrugated boxes to penetrate traditional folding carton applications, especially in the developed world. Greater interest in corrugated packaging as a point-of-sale display in retail applications will also boost demand for value-added corrugated boxes.
However, gains will be limited by the mature state of the corrugated box industry in developed areas such as the US, Western Europe and Japan, where boxes are essentially commodity items used in well-established markets. Corrugated boxes also face competition from reusable plastic shipping crates and other types of plastic packaging. Nonetheless, corrugated boxes will benefit from their environmentally friendly image, as well as certain cost advantages compared to plastics crates -- especially considering that old corrugated boxes can often be sold to recycling companies, whereas the usage of plastic crates typically involves cleaning and returning costs.
China, India to be fastest growing national markets
The fastest increases will occur in the world’s developing regions, although growth rates will moderate from the 2003-2008 period. The Asia/Pacific region, Eastern Europe and the Africa/ Mideast region will all outpace the global average. Some of the best gains are expected in China, which will surpass the US as the world’s largest corrugated box market by 2013; and India, which will benefit from strong growth in industrial output and consumer product markets, as well as greater investment in state-of-theart manufacturing equipment, resulting in improved product quality. Greater urbanization and industrialization, and expanding international trade will support advances in these regions’ generally underdeveloped packaging sectors. Rising consumer income levels and expanding middle-classes will also generate robust internal demand for packaged consumer goods like processed foods, beverages and personal care items, supporting increases in corrugated box consumption.
Recycled board to lead containerboard demand
Global containerboard demand growth will trail box production as trends toward the use of higher-performance, lighter board continue. In addition, recycled board will continue to capture market share at the expense of virgin kraft liner and semichemical corrugated medium (fluting), accounting for over 70 percent of board by 2013. Advances for recycled board will be bolstered by consumer, industry and regulatory pressures for environmentally friendly products and practices, rising virgin board prices and rapid demand growth in Asia, which is heavily reliant on recycled liner and fluting.