Flexible packaging is emerging as a popular choice in the packaging sector and is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.1% between 2015 and 2020, says a report by GlobalData.

Titled ‘Global Executives Survey: Growth of Flexible Packaging’, the report also provides insights into the factors hindering the growth of the sector.

Cost-efficiency and convenience are the main reasons for the increasing popularity of flexible packaging, according to the report. The sector emerged as one of the fastest-growing packaging sectors with a CAGR of 3.3% between 2010 and 2015.

Growth of the flexible packaging sector, however, is hindered by factors such as lack of sustainability and low premium appeal. Approximately 56% of respondents surveyed for the report agreed that better sustainability would increase the popularity of flexible packaging.

"Cost-efficiency and convenience are the main reasons for the increasing popularity of flexible packaging, according to the report."

Of the survey's respondents, 32% observed that the biggest threat to the flexible packaging sector is from glass packaging. The main advantage of glass packaging is its recyclability as companies choose sustainability practices such as recycling to improve the image of their business.

Flexible packaging manufacturers will need to invest in environment-friendly formulations and credentials in order to capture market share from glass packaging.

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Furthermore, glass packaging is considered to be of superior quality due to its matte or glossy finishes. Glass, therefore, remains a strong choice for companies selling higher-end goods, states Veronika Zhupanova, Consumer Analyst for GlobalData.

Flexible packaging manufacturers, therefore, need to invest in creating a premium look for their products. A third of industry players surveyed agree that introducing flexible packaging with a premium aesthetic will boost its popularity.

Manufacturers should invest in creating original shapes, matte surface and more complex design patterns to make packaging of premium products more aesthetic and luxurious, adds Zhupanova.