Freedonia Studies Specialty Films


CLEVELAND OH | Specialty Films, a new study from The Freedonia Group, says US demand for specialty films is forecast to advance 5.2%/yr to $8.0 billion in 2017. Gains will be driven by the increasing need for high-performance plastic films that offer barrier properties, mechanical strength, and chemical resistance in packaging applications. Increasing use in small but high-growth market areas, such as photovoltaic modules and biodegradable packaging, are also expected to bolster advances, as will a rebound in the construction market.

Packaging is the largest market for specialty films, accounting for two-thirds of overall demand. Of the specialty film used in packaging, barrier films have the largest share, with more than 90% of the market. According to the study, growth in barrier film demand will be driven by the rapid rise in the use of vacuum packaging, oxygen scavenging, and low-oxygen, case-ready technologies in meat packaging, as these technologies utilize high-barrier films to maintain an optimum atmosphere inside the package. Demand for barrier films will also benefit from the increased use of specialty barrier films in pharmaceutical blister packaging applications.

A rebound in building construction will benefit safety and security films, as double-digit annual growth in both residential and nonresidential building spending will boost demand for films used in windows for safety and security as well as light control. While the use of interlayer films in laminated vehicle glass is mature and offers limited opportunities for growth, the report notes, better prospects are expected for safety and security films used in buildings. Light control films will also benefit from the rebound in construction activity, as both residential and commercial customers seek to reduce energy costs.

The study says the most rapid growth in specialty films, albeit from a small base, will occur in biodegradable and water-soluble films, which will benefit as the technologies improve and new applications are developed. Demand for biodegradable films, which are used to produce compostable packaging and bags for organic waste, are expected to benefit from environmental concerns and the increased commercialization of bio-based polymers. Water-soluble film demand will receive a boost from the introduction of pharmaceutical and health products in dissolvable thin film form as well as the introduction of edible, water-soluble food packaging.

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