The European tube market remained robust in 2022, with deliveries of tubes increasing by 2% and the European Tube Manufacturers Association (ETMA) has reported that shipments to the volume-dominant pharmaceutical market grew 13%, while dental care and cosmetics shipments rose by 2% and 1% respectively.

However, demand from the food and household sectors declined by 7% and 14%.

ETMA president Mark Aegler explains the long-standing globalisation trend in procurement has given way to increasing regionalisation.

He says: “ETMA members are seeing many customers focus on European sourcing because security of supply and a certain geographic proximity are playing an increasingly important role following supply chain issues in recent years.”

In fact, he says European tube suppliers will benefit from this trend.

2022 saw the drafting of a new European regulation for packaging and packaging waste presented by the EU Commission. This includes stricter requirements for the recyclability and design of packaging, meaning the packaging industry will have to deliver innovations.

The ETMA explains that the European tube industry has been working successfully for years on what it describes as even more sustainable packaging solutions that bring improvements through less material use, less complex packaging structures and optimal recyclability. These measures are said to lead to more resource efficiency and a reduction of the product carbon footprint.

The draft legislation presented by the EU Commission and the quotas it contains for the use of recycled material in plastic packaging are also expected to pose major challenges regarding the availability of high-quality post-consumer recycled plastics, explains the ETMA.

It states: “Persistent inflation may be limiting consumers’ purchasing power, but the tube is extremely popular with consumers as a practical, lightweight, and easy-to-use package. It has also proven to be an anchor of stability in the FMCG world during the past years of crisis.”

Aegler emphasises that “European tube manufacturers are feeling a slight easing in energy, raw material and freight prices. However, the situation regarding labour costs and labour availability has noticeably worsened. In the fierce competition for qualified employees, tube manufacturers are called upon to sharpen their profile as attractive and flexible employers with meaningful sustainability strategies.”

Major brands such as Colgate have introduced recyclable tubes into their packaging production, proving the potential for further innovation globally.