Dairy growth highlights future packaging challenges: Report

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: International dairy foods, Milk, Dairy product, Dairy

Dairy product sales in the US have continued to rise during 2008, defying higher prices for consumers and creating a number of challenges and opportunities for packagers in the future, according to a new report.

The survey compiled by trade associationPackaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute(PMMI​) reveals demand for dairy products in the US alone was found to be up by two per cent, negating a nine per cent hike in pricing during 2008.

Pack pressure

The report suggests further growth potential for dairies over the coming twelve months amidst continuing volatility in milk and commodity prices, putting packagers under greater pressure to meet specific innovation needs amongst processors.

Citing information from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the report suggests that with a retail value of about $50bn (€35.7) per year, the dairy industry is now the fourth fastest growing grocery segment in the US.

“However, the industry also faces challenges, such as uncertain availability for raw materials and price fluctuations, which are likely to intensify in the coming years,”​ states the report.

According to the PMMI, the US dairy segment is currently dominated by 15 so called ‘mega dairies’, suggesting further consolidation by a growing number of manufacturers.

Investment interest

With these possible shifts expected over the next twelve months, the report claims that 71 per cent of dairy processors are likely to invest in packaging equipment over the coming year, with another 16 per cent thought to be looking to overhaul entire line applications with new machinery.

Despite wider concerns on cost effectiveness in the economic downturn, these investment attitudes are seen as reflecting consumer interest in healthy and convenient food products.

The study suggests that similar attitudes to sustainability from consumers mean that dairy processors are particularly interested in less energy intensive processing.

Primary and secondary packaging change drivers include considerations about the most economical and environmentally friendly materials, customer requirements and improving efficiency to address lower margins,” ​writes the report.

With this predicted interest from the dairy segment in overhauling packaging operations, the report says that greater cooperation between pack suppliers and dairies is expected. According to the findings, 90 per cent of companies surveyed by PMMI say they rely on machine builders to train their operators, while 73 per cent wanted the companies to be more consultative both in design and installation.

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