Metallized Papers and Films: A New Focus for Global Growth

Corey M. Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Assoc., provides highlights from the paper he presented at the winter management meeting in Phoenix, AZ.

The dynamic development of flexible packaging in all its forms has led to a resurgence of interest in metallized papers and films as barrier materials—and has encouraged significant technology advance, to the benefit of the packaging and labeling industry in general.

Today, the market for metallized materials is dominated by packaging applications, but labels, textiles, and technical applications also contribute to overall demand.

Metallized film is the most popular medium today, with PP and PET taking 55% and 38% of the market respectively. Most metallized film usage is in flexible packaging, which is unquestionably sustaining overall growth; but regional preferences and niche applications also exist in labeling, gift wrap, decorative films, textile threads, and in touch screens, antennae, and other technical functions.

We are seeing strong growth in metallized films in a number of fields: clear oxide and other opaque barrier coatings for flexible packaging; patterned metallizing (e.g. holographic "wallpaper"); and the whole platform of overt security and brand authentication holography.

Most metallized papers find their way into the labeling -- or, more correctly, product decoration and identification -- market today. Research continues to show that consumers favor metallized packaging and labeling, and as a result leading brands—particularly beers—still represent good business for metallized papers. However, the static, if not declining, glue applied label market is holding back the overall demand growth. Cigarette wrap applications command a significant 17% of the metallized paper market.

In geographical terms, metallized materials are seeing an overall decline in global market share in North America and Europe; but Asia Pacific and India are currently very buoyant, and South America is showing signs of a revival of interest.

While there is real evidence of activity in the metallized materials market, it is true to say that there are also threats to it. In the packaging arena, competition from alternative barrier coatings and container formats is increasing. There is also a lack of development in metallized papers outside the areas of labels and cigarette packaging. In non-packaging markets, there is a real need for innovation. Finally, aluminum's poor image in some regions of the world—the Nordic countries and Germany, for example—is affecting sales volumes.

So for the short and medium term, the outlook for the metallizing market is reasonably positive—as flexible packaging opens up an increasing number of opportunities for metallized barrier-coated materials. Find out more and understand market dynamics and characteristics worldwide in the new Metallized Papers & Films World Sourcebook 2006.


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