Lighter plastic and aluminum packaging to lower transportation expense and increased automation are important trends for beverage companies.
Retail sales of functional drinks, including ready-to-drink tea, increased more than 30 percent from 2005 to 2015, according to Technavio, a London-based market research firm. Functional drinks include energy drinks, RTD tea and coffee, sports drinks, and enhanced fruit and water drinks. These products witness the highest growth rate in the beverage industry and will grow at an annual rate of more than 7 percent during the 2017-21 period, Technavio forecasts.
The resulting increase in volume makes robotics more appealing and the increase in weight makes efficient transport more critical to profitability.
“The rise in demand for lightweight packaging has emerged as a key trend in the global beverage packaging market,” according to Technavio’s Global Beverage Packaging Market report. “Growing urbanization and rising health awareness among individuals, along with rising personal incomes have cumulatively attributed to an increase in consumption of healthy and ready-to-eat food products.” . These factors will also lead to a rise in the sales of equipment used to package such food products through 2021.
“Growth momentum will accelerate during the forecast period,” according to Technavio.
“Europe and North America have mature beverage packaging markets, and the growth rate of the market in these regions is less when compared with several developing countries in Asia-Pacific (APAC),” said Sharan Raj, a lead beverage packaging analyst with Technavio.
“Due to the rise in income levels and rapid urbanization, developing markets such as India, China and Indonesia is exceeding the current growth rate of the global market,” he said.
Lightweight packaging materials allow vendors to reduce the cost of transportation. In 2014, Sidel, a beverage packaging company launched pasteurizable lightweight PET bottles for beer with a non-petaloid base. In 2013, Ball Corp. introduced lightweight cans in Europe. These new beer cans contain 25 percent recycled aluminum and are 10 percent lighter than their previous versions, according to Technavio.
“Robotic packaging machinery enables reduced wastage of packaging materials and timely rectification of operational problems,” saiad Raj. Technologically advanced robotic machinery uses real-time data collected from several machines and the entire packaging line to optimize output, he said, adding, “In such machinery, malfunctions operational issues with a single machine are detected and rectified so that the performance of the overall machinery is not affected.”