The global packaging market is expected to reach $820bn by 2016, driven by growing demand in emerging and transitional economies, according to a new forecast by Pira International.

The report observes that board products and rigid plastics will drive the 3% annual growth with $40bn and $33bn in cumulative predicted growth respectively to 2016.

With a demand of $137bn, the US was the largest consumer for packaging in 2010 followed by China with $80bn. According to Pira, China is expected to surpass the US by 2017; while India will enter the top ten packaging countries with its demand set to double in the next five years.

Board products, which totalled $210bn in 2010, will account for the biggest sector of the packaging market and maintain its leading position into 2016 when the sector will increase by an extra $40bn, totalling nearly $250bn.

Rigid plastic is the second largest area with a share in 2010 of 21%, or $144bn; this will expand to more than $200bn by 2016, while the flexible packaging market is set to increase to $163bn by 2016 from $130bn in 2010.

Metal packaging consumption, which represented 15% of the 2010 market, will lose demand to rigid plastic products and decrease to a share of 14%.

Demand for glass containers is set to rise from $45bn in 2010 to around $53bn by 2016, with a combined growth from the food and drinks industry at $43bn.

Pira said health care packs are expected to grow 4.5% each year to reach a total of $34bn and cosmetics packaging will grow by 4.2% a year to reach $24bn.

The study is based on a combination of primary and secondary data gathered during Pira’s research programme for the global packaging industry.