Due to rising demand from the e-commerce sector, the food and beverage business, the electronic industry, the industrial sector, and rising disposable income in developing nations, the corrugated boxes market is booming. The market is also being driven by a growing preference for consumer goods and other end-uses. During the projection period, these are the major drivers boosting demand for corrugated boxes.
The global corrugated boxes market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.6 percent from USD 67.6 billion in 2021 to USD 80.8 billion by 2026.
Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Corrugated Box Market
The COVID-19 epidemic has had a huge influence on the aluminium sector around the world, and it’s difficult to know how severe the damage will be in the long run. The coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of about 198,000 operational dental hospitals and clinics in the United States (data as of August 2020). The recession that followed the outbreak of the pandemic had a negative influence on the packaging business. For packaging solution producers around the world, the sudden drop and volatility in raw material prices before and after the COVID-19 outbreak has been a source of anxiety. However, since the pandemic, there has been a considerable surge in e-commerce. The quantity of e-commerce retail sales is increasing dramatically. In Europe, e-commerce trade is predicted to develop at a rate of around 20% per year.
Market Dynamics for Corrugated Boxes
Sustainability, combined with a surge in internet purchasing in Central and Eastern Europe, is driving the industry.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, around 45 percent of consumers in Central and Eastern Europe choose to shop online. According to studies and surveys, new internet shoppers are likely to continue purchasing online. Almost 80% of the population in Central and Eastern Europe appreciates the use of environmentally friendly materials and a sustainable approach in the corrugated boxes used for packaging. For online shopping, 77 percent of consumers utilise sustainable corrugated packaging solutions. Approximately 57 percent are prepared to pay more for corrugated packaging that is both customisable and sustainable. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the online business has grown. People are growing more interested and vocal about the use of environmentally friendly items. This element is causing the market to expand.
Restraint: Flexible plastic packaging poses a significant threat.
Flexible plastic packaging offers the greatest benefit to manufacturers and retailers since it reduces package weight, which can result in lower shipping and warehousing costs and the need for much less space. Single-serve sizes, easy-to-open, and easy-peel alternatives make it convenient for consumers, and the food tastes better in retort pouches than it does in typical tin cans. Flexible packaging saves 40% on overall packaging costs, resulting in a 50% reduction in landfill trash and a 62 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to rigid packaging. As a result, incentives like as portability, cost savings, sustainability, and health benefits are prompting product packaging producers and converters to switch from rigid to flexible materials.
Smurfit Kappa is bringing digitalization to the corrugated business by inventing a new line of paper.
Smurfit Kappa, a well-known provider of corrugated packaging solutions, aided the corrugated industry’s adoption of digitalization. It has created a line of multi-purpose paper that should work with both digital and flexography printers. The creation of multi-purpose paper was conducted with the goal of allowing the printer to collaborate with the packaging material. This improvement expands the parameters of optimal digital printing and is projected to maximise digital printing’s potential. Customized graphic design has resulted in a variety of benefits, including increased flexibility and sales. In addition, the organisation plans to develop new solutions and improve existing sustainable technology. These developments are propelling the digitalization of the paper-based packaging business, which has a lot of room for expansion.
Environmental compliance during production is a challenge.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions and the development of highly efficient and environmentally friendly production technologies are two main difficulties that corrugated box makers are projected to confront over time. Consumer demand for corrugated boxes is increasing; nevertheless, the high energy consumption and environmental effect act as a key impediment to it being deemed a highly sought-after packaging option. Because corrugated boxes are constructed of wood pulp, they have a substantial environmental impact. The energy required for production is far higher than that required for plastic synthesis. Corrugated boxes use 34% more energy to manufacture than reusable plastic containers. When making corrugated boxes, CO2 emissions are also higher. As a result, corrugated box makers may find it difficult to meet environmental regulations during production.
The corrugated box market’s largest type segment is slotted boxes.
The market is divided into slotted boxes, telescope boxes, rigid boxes, and folder boxes based on kind. In terms of both value and volume, the slotted boxes sector dominated the market. They’re normally manufactured from a single piece of corrugated board that’s stitched, taped, or glued together. After scoring and fitting the blank, or tray, to allow folding, the boxes are shipped flat to the user. To build a box, the user must square it up, stuff it with the merchandise, and close the flaps. To give enough loading strength, the flute is placed parallel to the depth. The slotted box is a particularly efficient product since it produces very little waste during the manufacturing process. It’s great for delivering things like cups, mugs, and books, among other things.
The corrugated box market’s largest material segment is linerboard.
The market is divided into three categories based on material: linerboard, medium, and others. In terms of both value and volume, the linerboard material category dominated the market. At least 80% of the fibres in kraft liner are virgin kraft pulp fibres. Kraft liner is used as an outer and intermediate ply in corrugated boxes because of its great strength and moisture resistance. The kraft linerboard is mostly used to make high-quality color-printed corrugated boxes for the food and beverage, home and personal care, and other industries. The virgin kraft pulp fibres in recycled linerboard, also known as test liner, are less than 80%. It’s also utilised for corrugated board’s outer and intermediate plies. However, because it contains more recycled fibre, it is not as sturdy as kraft liner. Compared to kraft liner, recycled linerboard is less expensive. Double line kraft clippings and old corrugated containers are among the recycled resources used to make recycled board.
The printing ink segment of the corrugated box industry is dominated by water-based ink.
Water-based inks, UV-curable inks, hot melt-based inks, and solvent-based inks are the several types of printing inks available. By both value and volume, the water-based ink sector led the printing ink segment of the market. Water-based inks are made up of colloidal pigments or colours suspended in water-soluble resins or resin emulsions. Water-based inks typically have a higher percentage of solids, which means there is less liquid to remove. Because of the nature of the resins used in water systems, a thinner layer of ink is frequently employed. There are two types of water-based inks: dye and pigment. Despite the fact that dye inks produce high-quality images, they are not waterproof and will fade if exposed to UV radiation. Pigment inks are UV-resistant inks that are waterproof for a brief period of time.
The corrugated box market’s largest printing technology segment is flexography printing.
The market is classified into digital printing, flexography printing, lithography printing, and other printing technologies based on printing technique (offset, screen, and gravure printing technologies). The flexography category dominated the market in terms of printing technology. Flexography is a speedy and cost-effective printing technology that is commonly utilised in packaging printing due to its numerous advantages. Simple designs and colours are applied to a variety of packing materials, including corrugated boxes, plastic containers, tapes, envelopes, and metal foils. For printing on corrugated boxes, flexography printing method is in high demand. It’s a type of relief printing in which an image is transferred to corrugated board using rubber or polymer plates, similar to how an automated rubber stamp works. Flexography printing was created to print on rough and uneven surfaces like corrugated cardboard. In flexography printing, the ink is rapid drying and has a low viscosity. As a result, it is regarded as a rapid printing procedure. Flexography printing is appropriate for plain text or 1-2 colour graphical pictures on corrugated boards because of their porous nature.
The largest end-use industry category of the corrugated box market is food and beverages.
The market is divided into food & beverages, electronic goods, home & personal care goods, chemicals, textile goods, glassware & ceramics, paper products, and others based on end-use industries. In terms of both value and volume, the food and beverage segment dominated the market. Fresh produce, processed food, and non-perishables are all important segments in the food and beverage industry. Packaging is required in the food and beverage industry for product storage, handling, and transportation. When carrying products with variable strengths, such as particularly fragile, perishable products and processed food products, corrugated boxes are required. Corrugated boxes are a good choice for packaging, transporting, and storing food for a long time because they are non-reactive. Processed food packaging necessitates the use of safe packaging materials that are both suitable for the customer and prove product safety. As a result, corrugated boxes are commonly used to package processed foods.
The largest market for corrugated boxes is Asia Pacific.
In terms of value, the APAC region is expected to be the largest market. During the forecast period, APAC is also expected to develop at the fastest CAGR. The efficient demand and supply cycle of the food and beverage, electronic, and personal care industries, particularly in nations like China, India, and Japan, is driving growth in APAC. The market in the area is being driven by a major surge in e-commerce business development. APAC is also an industrial powerhouse with a big market. During the projected period, various factors such as rising consumer goods demand, innovation in electronics and other sectors, and so on are expected to drive the expansion of this regional market.
Key competitors in the corrugated boxes industry include Rengo Co., Ltd. (Japan), Mondi Group (UK), DS Smith (UK), Smurfit Kappa Group (Ireland), and International Paper (US).