- August 31, 2004, Stanley Sacharow, The Packaging Group Inc.
Considered Europe's most exciting flex-pack market, Germany also produces many influential environmental laws.
Germany (pop. 83 million) has Europe's largest flex-pack industry estimated at US$2.5 billion. Similar to Italy, Germany is a source of many printing and converting machines, particularly presses, extruders, and slitters. In addition, the German packaging machine industry parallels Italy's. All these factors make Germany the most vibrant European market. Specific areas of strength include barrier laminates, aluminum foil production, and laminates for cured meats and cheeses.
German converters were among the first to enter Eastern European markets after the collapse of communism. The nation's strategic position to the east coupled with the large German-speaking population in Eastern Europe served as conduits toward flex-pack penetration. Both machine manufacturers and converters rushed in to fill the void in consumer products after communism.
There are many sophisticated and well-respected German flex-pack converters. Huhtamski, Oyji, a Finnish company, is a world leader in consumer packaging and maintains a plant in Germany that is a world leader in retort pouch production. Nordenia Intl. AG is among the top ten polyethylene film extruders in Europe and has plants all over Europe, including a new installation in Morocco. It produces a wide variety of film/foil/laminates. VAW Flexible Packaging, a division of the huge VAW aluminum group, manufactures converted material for consumer applications. German foil producers such as Handler and Naturmann, Hueck, and Nusser produce products on a worldwide basis. Wolf Walsroden, a Bayer division, holds many “firsts” in the barrier area.
Another unique factor in the German flex-pack industry is its almost mystic interest in environmental concerns. There is widespread opposition to polyvinyl chloride; however the nation is Europe's largest user of aluminum foil. Many pioneering environmental laws come from Germany and later are adopted by other European Nations.
In the field of converting equipment, Germany excels. It is home to such industry standards as Kroenert (coaters), Kampf (slitters/rewinders), Fischer & Krecke (printing presses), Leybold (vacuum coating), Jagenberg/Pagendarm (foil presses/converting plants), Windmöller & Hölscher (printing presses), and others. Many flexible packaging plants have at least one press manufactured in Germany.