The aseptic packaging demand in the US is forecast to grow 8% a year to exceed $5.1bn in 2015, according to market research firm the Freedonia Group.

The report suggests that growth will be driven by drug-sterility requirements and ambient distribution, as well as storage advantages for food and beverages.

According to the study, the increasing availability of biotechnology-based injectable drugs necessitates aseptic filling and packaging, as such drugs tend to be heat-sensitive, making the high temperature used in terminal sterilisation processes unfeasible.

In addition, the shelf stability of aseptic packaging allows dairy products to move through the supply chain unrefrigerated and will fuel rapid growth.

The report found that pharmaceuticals, which share 64% of the total packaging market, was the largest aseptic packaging segment in 2010, reflecting the requirements of aseptic filling and the consumption of biotechnology-based drugs. The packaging demand in this specific area is set to rise by 8.4% annually to $3.4bn through to 2015.

Its growth in the beverage segment will be restricted by the performance of the fruit beverage market, expectation among US consumers for chilled milk and competition from hot-fill packaging.

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The study forecasts that gains will be driven by shelf-stability advantages, as well as by expanding applications in liquid, low-particulate and pumpable foods through the replacement of metal cans and glass jars.

The ongoing commercialisation of biotechnology-based drugs will cause above-average demand in growth for aseptic vials and ampuls, as well as prefillable syringes, the report said. It predicts that demand for prefillable syringes will rise 11% per annum to $1.1bn and the syringes will represent the fastest growing aseptic packaging product type through to 2015.