Cheese is the principal dairy segment for the consumption of high-barrier packaging films.
David Platt, author of the report, ‘The Future of High-Barrier Packaging Films to 2021,’ told DairyReporter cheese can pose particular challenges to brand owners as many varieties continue to ripen once encapsulated in a film.
This creates carbon dioxide and propionic acid, which must be able to escape to keep the packaging from swelling.
At the same time, oxygen in the packaging needs to be prevented as it helps to sustain mold.
“Global cheese sales are growing at a steady rate, but the trend towards pre-packed cheese means demand for flexible packaging film is growing at a higher rate than all cheese sales,” he said.
“The premium cheese sector, particularly sliced, grated and children’s products, is also driving growth in cheese packaging.
“The use of high-barrier films to package cheese will continue to increase across the next five years as consumers’ preference for natural cheese continues to grow at the expense of processed cheese that requires less barrier packaging.”
The report claims global high-barrier packaging film consumption was projected at 1.86m tonnes in 2016 and is forecast to grow during 2016–2021 at an annual rate of 4.6% to 2.33m tonnes.
It says the materials market used to produce high-barrier packaging films will grow at an annual rate of 4.7% from 2016-2021 to reach a value of around $11.32bn, up from $9.0bn in 2016.
Dairy products account for a projected 3.9% share of high-barrier packaging film consumption in 2016 and will grow at a lower rate than the overall market average rate.
Suckies premium fresh yogurt
“Flexible packaging is starting to be introduced for other dairy products, such as stand-up pouches for yogurt packaging. For example, the Collective Dairy organization has launched Suckies premium fresh yogurt pouches aimed at children through leading UK retail chains,” added Platt.
“Suckies contain only naturally occurring sugars, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.”
He said consumers’ growing need for convenience and product safety is driving demand for high-barrier packaging film.
“Busier consumer lifestyles have led to demand for convenience products, together with the popularity of microwave cooking, which has contributed to growing use of microwaveable retort ready meals packed in trays and stand-up pouches,” said Platt.
“High-barrier flexible packaging products, such as retort pouches, are challenging rigid pack formats, such as metal tins and glass jars, for a wide range of food products.”
The report states material producers continue to innovate with new and improved plastic films and additives for packaging production. These include high-barrier and foil replacement films, sealant films and films that are more easily recyclable.
A reduction in material usage is another key trend throughout the packaging and pouch-making industry, either through thinner films or fewer film layers.
Consumer demand for food with a longer shelf life has also led to the development of multilayer film structures. Recycling becomes a particular problem with multimaterial structures containing more than one type of plastic, as these are difficult to separate with the equipment installed in contemporary material recovery facilities (MRFs).
However, new materials are becoming commercially available for recycling multilayer high-barrier packaging film.