COVID-19 update included
The content of this report will be updated with the latest scenarios based on the global COVID-19 Pandemic

The liquid packaging carton market was valued at USD 10.03 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach a value of USD 12.01 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 3.06% over the forecast period from 2020 to 2025. Cartons are paperboard containers manufactured by converters that are filled and closed in a food packaging plant. Cartons are made in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and numerous designs. The most crucial factor in Liquid Packaging Board (LPB) is purity, which disqualifies nonwood free pulps and secondary fibers. To promote barrier properties, LPB is being extrusion coated or metalized, but not always pigment coated. LPB is generally converted into a gable top or brick type packaging, which requires somewhat different properties due to the nature of its filling and assembling process.

  • In liquid packaging cartons, three forms that dominate the market are brick type cartons, gable-top cartons, and tetrahedron cartons. The popularity of cartons in the packaging industry is due to the economic advantage over other packaging types. The raw material used is inexpensive compared to other conventional packaging materials. Cartons can be easily collapsed to take up minimal space in shipment to the user. A carton as a primary packaging material protects a product. Additionally, it makes product handling easier, provides a surface that can be printed, and is attractively decorated to add aesthetic sales appeal to the product. Fruit juice is a rapidly growing beverage market segment, but most of these juices are prone to oxidation.
  • In the global market, the demand for liquid paperboard is heavily dependent on a market segment of the liquid type, although there has been scope for new and emerging areas. A very significant volume of liquid packaging carton consumption occurs in the dairy industry, with juice packaging accounting for a distant second in the market. Apart from milk and juices, liquid carton packaging is also being adopted for alcoholic beverage packaging. Companies, such as Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd, launched a liquid paper carton with a built-in spout that facilitates the long-term storage of alcoholic beverages at room temperature.
  • Moreover, several water brands are launching their products in liquid packaging cartons to drive sustainability. For instance, Fontsoria drives its strategy for more responsible water packaging forward with the launch of its Agua en Caja Mejor brand in Pure-Pak? cartons with plant-based renewable polymers from sugar cane. Fontsoria has responded to rising demands for sustainable packaging and has further improved its Pure-Pak Mini cartons, increasing the renewable content up to 94%. Also, a water brand like Just water uses liquid packaging cartons made mostly from paper, and the cap is made from sugarcane. The company Boxed Water also offers the boxed alternative in three sizes, ranging from the 250-milliliter size to a full liter.
  • With the outbreak of COVID-19, beverage companies are facing disrupted supply chains and significantly reduced consumption. Though at-home use has increased, out-of-home product consumption, which historically generates the highest profit margins, has come to nearly a standstill, with market stagnation. There may be several long-term changes in customer behavior and demand. However, the key factors that affect the liquid packaging cartons market after the pandemic include the impact on each stage of its value chain, including the workforce at an industrial level, raw material supply, and uncertain beverage demand at different outlets.



Key Market Trends


Milk is Expected to Hold Major Share

  • Millennials who seek out products that are healthy and all-natural finds milk as an attractive option. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that milk offers health benefits, from combatting diabetes to optimizing bone health and for healthy brain functioning. Milk is counted among the essential staple foods, which is an integral part of a balanced diet and contains, among other vital nutrients, a high percentage of calcium. In 2019, worldwide milk production amounted to about 513.22 million metric tons. Among the primary producers, the United States was ranked second with a milk production amounting to over 98.8 million metric tons in 2018.
  • Carton packaging has traditionally been associated with milk, as it protects food and is also good for the environment. Paperboard is one of the commonly used materials for making cartons for milk packaging. In 2019, Brownes Dairy announced plans to replace its existing milk cartons with a carton package made entirely from plant-based, renewable materials. The Tetra Rex Bio-based package is a fully renewable carton, with its protective layers derived from sugar cane. The bio-based packages are more sustainable than standard milk cartons, reducing manufacturer reliance on fossil-based polyethylene plastic in the lining.
  • Moreover, the cartons are being adopted, as it is an ideal option for packaging milk for retail distribution. Companies are increasingly adopting aseptic cartons and pouches for milk packaging. Research shows that the organoleptic quality of aseptically processed UHT milk has significant benefits, in terms of lactulose, lactoserum proteins, and vitamin content, as compared to retort processing. Tetra Pak has been a keen adopter of aseptic packaging compared to retort in the beverage sector. The company has been increasingly using an aseptic carton bottle for packaging milk.
  • Also, Valio, a Finland-based diary company, uses plant-based cartons for packaging milk. All of its gable-top milk, sour milk, cream, and yogurt cartons are 100% plant-based, reducing 3,140 metric tons of CO2 emissions every year. The significant advantage of liquid carton packages is that the shelf life of milk is enhanced significantly, the nutrients are intact, and they are environmentally friendly. Aurivo, an Ireland-based dairy company, invested in a new packing machine, produces fully renewable milk cartons manufactured from sugarcane and paperboard. In FY2020, the company intends to move to bio-based cartons for all milk and work with suppliers and partners to reduce plastic packaging.



Asia-Pacific is Expected to Witness the Highest Growth

  • The population of China and India dominates Asia-Pacific, and these two countries are witnessing an increase in disposable income and the constant growth rate. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, cow’s milk production volume accounted for 32.01 million metric tons in 2019. India is the most significant contributor to milk production globally, with its volume reaching 187.7 metric tons in 2019 compared to 176.3 metric tons in 2018. All these factors would supplement the growth of the liquid packaging carton market in the region.
  • SIG has reached an agreement to acquire Visy Cartons Pty Ltd from VisyPak Operations Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Pratt Consolidated Holdings Pty Ltd, for AUD 70 million. The overall Australia and New Zealand market for aseptic beverage cartons is projected to grow at around 3% CAGR over the next five years, driven mainly by investments in dairies for the export of aseptic milk to China and other Asian countries. The acquisition of Visy Cartons will enable SIG to support its existing customers in Asia further who have invested in or partnered with players in Australia and New Zealand. In China, in particular, demand for premium milk imported from Australia and New Zealand is expected to grow by around 7% CAGR over the next five years. SIG is already firmly positioned in the Chinese market, with an expanding local manufacturing presence.
  • Switzerland-based SIG announced plans to build its second production plant in Suzhou, China, in July 2019. The new production plant will manufacture aseptic carton packaging. It will be developed with an estimated investment of EUR 180 million and operational in early-2021. The project is being undertaken to meet the growing demands for packaged food and beverages in the Asia-Pacific region. SIG forayed into China through the establishment of a 17,500m? tech center opened in February 2019. The facility undertakes development and manufacturing of filling technology along with filling tests for customers, as well as offers training.
  • In India, Amul sells 5% of its total milk in cartons. The dairy co-operative procures 26 million liters of milk daily. Though with the outbreak of COVID-19, there is no foreseen shortage of milk, the packaging of milk in cartons is reportedly short, with liquid carton manufacturing being halted temporarily. Tetra Pak India Pvt. Ltd, which manufactures the packaging materials, had to stop operations after the government’s call for the lockdown. However, the company resumed operations once milk was listed as an essential commodity by the Union government, two days into the lockdown.



Competitive Landscape


The liquid packaging market is quite fragmented because of the presence of large players like Elopak, Evergreen Packaging LLC, SIG Global Pte. Ltd, etc., and local players in this industry. Moreover, the rising partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions are predicted to supplement this industry’s market growth in the coming years. The growing environmental concerns like the overuse of plastic packaging, recyclable nature of carton packs, and convenience over the use of glass packaging are some of the factors that will help boost the liquid packaging industry. Innovations in liquid packaging like recycled paper and lightweight packaging are the drivers for this industry.

  • April 2020 - Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) announced that IPI S.r.l. has been certified against the ASI Performance Standard with a focus on material stewardship for its aseptic packaging production operations. The company’s carton packs made of paper fiber from certified, responsible sources include an ultra-thin barrier layer of aluminum foil. IPI strongly supports ASI’s commitment to promoting the responsible production, sourcing, and stewardship of aluminum.
  • October 2019 - SIG has launched a carton pack combi style to meet the changing needs of the customers. Designed to guarantee on-shelf differentiation, the combi style features a new shaped corner with a safe grip with more functionality and convenience. According to the company, the existing filling machines can be modified to combi style with low investment. The upgraded lines will also be able to fill the original packs combiblocMidi and combifitMidi. This means, three carton formats can now be filled on a single line.



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