The packaging industry experienced a dynamic landscape in 2023, marked by strategic manoeuvres and deals among major players. This comprehensive roundup sheds light on the significant acquisitions and divestitures that reshaped the industry, providing insights into the motivations and implications of each move.

The industry in 2023 was defined by bold strategic moves, reflecting a concerted effort among industry giants to navigate challenges, leverage opportunities, and position themselves for a future shaped by innovation and sustainability.

Stora Enso’s strategic moves

January saw Stora Enso’s strategic acquisition of De Jong Packaging Group for €1.02bn, fortifying its position in the European packaging markets. 

The deal, concluded after regulatory clearances, amplified Stora Enso’s footprint in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the UK. Beyond expanding the portfolio, the acquisition bolstered Stora Enso’s corrugated packaging capacity, setting the stage for enhanced market influence.

Additionally, Stora Enso’s sale of its paper production site in Maxau, Germany, for around €210m ($230m) in March demonstrated a focused approach, streamlining operations and capitalising on strategic opportunities.

Sealed Air’s sustainable leap

In February, US-based Sealed Air (SEE) acquired flexible packaging firm Liquibox for $1.15bn. 

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

Liquibox’s focus on sustainable packaging solutions, including Bag-in-Box, aligns with SEE’s commitment to environmental responsibility. This strategic move not only propelled the growth of SEE’s CRYOVAC brand but also positions the company as a key player in providing eco-friendly packaging solutions across fresh food, beverage, consumer goods, and industrial end markets.

SK Chemicals’ green initiative

In March, SK Chemicals made waves with a $100m asset transfer agreement, acquiring the chemically recycled BHET and PET business division of Shuye, a Chinese company specialising in green materials. 

This strategic investment completes SK Chemicals’ recycled plastic value chain, from chemically recycled BHET to PET and copolyester. 

By strategically producing recycled plastic raw materials in China, SK Chemicals enhances its price competitiveness, laying the groundwork for new growth and securing the sustainability of its core business.

Bobst’s technological leap

April 2023 witnessed Swiss company Bobst acquire a majority stake (70%) in Dücker Robotics, an Italian firm specialising in robotic systems for the corrugated board sector. 

Beyond the undisclosed financial investment, this strategic move positions Bobst at the forefront of packaging manufacturing innovation.

By integrating anthropomorphic robots and fostering synergies with Dücker Robotics, Bobst aims to modernise packaging production lines, accelerate leadership in printing and converting, and pioneer novel solutions for evolving customer needs.

Smurfit Kappa’s landmark acquisition of Westrock

In September 2023, Smurfit Kappa orchestrated a game-changing deal, agreeing to acquire Westrock in a landmark agreement, estimated to be worth $11.2bn This move established the ‘Smurfit WestRock’ holding company, with Smurfit Kappa shareholders commanding 50.4%.

The strategic merger, set to conclude in Q2 2024, promises a synergistic powerhouse headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. The deal not only consolidates market influence but also propels the newly formed entity into a position of strength in the global packaging arena.

Navigating geo-political challenges

Against the backdrop of geopolitical shifts, sustainable paper and packaging company Mondi opted for a strategic divestment.

In September, Mondi finalised the sale of its remaining Russian facility to Sezar Invest for Rbs80bn ($828.18m). This decision, influenced by the geopolitical landscape post-February 2022, not only demonstrated corporate adaptability but also underscored the company’s commitment to navigating complex international challenges.

Meanwhile, International Paper’s exit from Ilim Group in January and Henkel’s withdrawal from Russia in April further underscore the industry’s response to evolving geopolitical scenarios, shaping a recalibration of global business strategies.

Orora’s global expansion

Australian packaging company Orora made a strategic foray into premium markets with the December 2023 acquisition of Saverglass for A$2.15bn.

Saverglass, a France-based high-quality glass bottles manufacturer, aligns with Orora’s growth objectives, enhancing strategic advantage, scale, and diversification. 

The acquisition positions Orora as a global player, tapping into Saverglass’s extensive network and expertise in the premium and ultra-premium spirit and wine markets.