Nearly 170 million tons of corrugated boxes were sold in 2018, equating to a market value worth $112 billion. A new study by Future Market Insights (FMI) estimates that the corrugated boxes market will grow at 3.9 percent year-over-year in 2019 and beyond.
Key market-influencing factors include: increased demand for bulk packaging solutions, higher recyclability of corrugated boxes, fluctuations in kraft paper cost and an increasing gap in the supply-to-demand scenario.
FMI’s report, released Feb. 4, tracks the corrugated boxes market for the period 2018-2028 and concludes, “The corrugated boxes market is projected to grow at 3.7 percent volume CAGR (compound annual growth rate) through 2028. It notes, “While paper and pulp markets have witnessed a significant decline in the last five years, increasing demand for paperboard packaging is said to balance the decline. However, manufacturers are likely to face challenges in the form of increasing popularity of plastic packaging as compared to that of fiber-based packaging solutions. Amid this, the corrugated boxes market is projected to generate revenues worth over $116 billion in 2019, with sales of 176 million tons.”
Corrugated boxes find extensive application in storage, packaging, shipping or moving processes carried out across industries ranging from manufacturing to warehousing. According to FMI valuation, nearly 70 percent of the corrugated boxes sold globally were made from single-wall board. Sales of single-wall board are likely to grow at 4.4 percent in 2019 as these boards are compatible with end-user requirements.
The study also opines that demand for double-wall board corrugated boxes registered the second-highest consumption in 2018. While the demand trend of double-wall board corrugated boxes will continue in the future, FMI finds that sales of triple-wall board corrugated boxes is expected to rise on the back of focused demand from end-users that store ship large, high-value, delicate and heavy products.
Paperboard packaging companies are realigning their business focus by introducing a broader portfolio to efficiently address customer value proposition, according to FMI. As the forest-based paper and pulp industry is undergoing a dramatic transition, commercial interphase of companies offering corrugated boxes is likely to change in terms of creation of value over maintaining sales volume.
FMI’s study finds that nearly 80 percent of the corrugated boxes sold in 2018 were made from recycled material. Demand for recycled corrugated boxes is estimated to grow annually at 4.4 percent in 2019, with the status-quo likely to continue throughout the forecast period.
Recyclability continues to be a focus area for both manufacturers and end-users. Sensing the changing preferences, manufacturers are adopting sustainable raw materials in the manufacture of corrugated boxes.
Liners vs. Flutes
Inner liner, outer liner and fluting medium comprise the design of the corrugated box. While each component carries different material options, volume sales of liners account for more than 63 percent of all component sales in the corrugated boxes market.
FMI’s study finds that sales of test liner are expected to grow at a higher rate over other liner types. Demand for unbleached test liner is expected to grow at 4.8 percent in 2019. Aligned with the recyclability trend, recycled fluting medium will be highly sought after in the coming years.
Furthermore, slotted boxes accounted for nearly 72 percent of all corrugated boxes sold in 2018.
Demand for slotted boxes is likely to rise in 2019 at a significant rate with the demand to remain highly consolidated in food and consumer goods industries.
The study foresees that among an extensive list of end users, the food industry is likely to account for more than 60 percent of the total corrugated boxes application in 2019. The food industry—in particular, processed food manufacturers—seeks bulk packaging solutions, of which corrugated packaging is embraced, owing to its cost effective and convenient nature.