Bulk container packaging is used to store and transport beverages, oils & fat, non-hazardous chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food products in large quantities. Flexitanks, flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBC) and bulk container liners are primarily used for bulk container packaging globally. Flexitanks are multi-layered bulk liquid containers with an outer covering of polypropylene and inner layers of polyethylene. In terms of capacity, these containers range from 14,000 to 24,000 liters. FIBCs are industrial containers manufactured from woven polyethylene or polypropylene. These are designed to transport dry and flowable products. FIBCs are classified in terms of electrostatic properties such as anti-static and conductive. Bulk container liners are available in blown film and woven fabric forms. These are primarily used in the transportation of dry free-flowing materials or chemicals.
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Increase in exports of vegetable oil from Southeast Asia and wine from Europe is expected to boost the bulk container packaging market. Vegetable oil exporters prefer flexitanks over other bulk packaging products such as drums, barrels and tank containers, due to low cost and higher operational efficiency. Usage of flexitanks lowers glass and bottling costs, import duties and overall transportation cost for wine exporters. Hence, wine exporters prefer flexitanks for bulk wine transport.
Furthermore, high operational and cost efficiency of flexitanks as compared to barrels and intermediate bulk containers (IBC) is anticipated to drive the market. However, volatility in prices of raw materials is likely to hamper the growth of the bulk container packaging market. Polyethylene and polypropylene are the major raw materials used in the manufacture of flexitanks, FIBC and bulk container lining. These raw materials are petrochemical derivatives, and hence, are subject to crude oil price volatility. Increase in commodity trade in BRICS countries is projected to provide immense opportunities for players in the bulk container packaging market.
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Product segments of bulk container packaging include flexitanks, flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBC) and bulk container liners. In terms of revenue, FIBC was the largest segment in the global bulk container packaging market in 2013. Flexitanks held a smaller share of the global bulk container packaging market; however, the segment is expected to expand at the highest growth rate in the next few years. In terms of revenue, the bulk container liners segment accounted for over 35% of the market share in 2013.
In terms of revenue, chemicals emerged as the largest application segment of the global bulk container packaging market in 2013. The segment accounted for over 50% share in 2013 and is anticipated to grow at a moderate rate during the forecast period. Chemicals segment is projected to remain the largest application in the near future. Bulk and commodity chemicals are raw materials used in various materials, polymers, specialty chemicals and other chemicals. Food & beverages was the second-largest segment of the bulk container packaging market in 2013. Demand for bulk container packaging products in other applications (including pharmaceuticals) is projected to rise at a slower pace in the next few years.
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North America emerged as the largest market for bulk container packaging, accounting for more than 30% of the global demand in 2013. Europe and Asia Pacific followed North America in terms of demand for bulk container packaging in 2013. Asia Pacific is likely to be the fastest growing region in terms of volume in the bulk container packaging market in the next few years. This is due to increasing exports of chemicals and oils to other regions. Europe is anticipated to grow at a moderate rate due to the changing global chemical exports scenario. Rest of the World (RoW) is projected to grow at the second-fastest rate, owing to rising exports of bulk chemicals and food products.
The global bulk container packaging market was moderately concentrated in 2013. Key industry participants include BLT Flexitank Industrial Co. Ltd., Braid Logistics, Büscherhoff Spezialverpackung GmbH & Co. KG, Environmental Packaging Technologies, Inc., SIA Flexitanks Ltd., Trans Ocean Bulk Logistics Ltd. and Trust Flexitanks.
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