Digital Magazine

Book details Japan's packaging industry

For those interested in exactly how Japan operates in the packaging/converting industry, the Japan Packaging Consultants Corp. (JPCC) has recently published the fourth edition of Japan's Packaging Business.

With more than 350 pages full of superb statistics on just about every conceivable aspect of the industry, the book is an outstanding value at $400.

JPCC was founded in 1972 as an independent packaging and converting research and consulting firm. In addition to a full range of consulting activities, JPCC publishes various reports and specialized surveys of Japan's packaging market.

Divided into 13 chapters ranging from various business aspects to converting machines and inks, Japan's Packaging Business offers relatively few pages of editorial copy but compensates for this with an astounding wealth of statistical data.

The chapter titled "Packaging Business" is more than 20 pages long, with at least 17 pages devoted to tabular data discussing the major Japanese packaging companies, packaging groups, material dealers, captive manufacturers and packaging users. The report's sparse attempt at statistical analysis is rather good. Here's what the report states about the overall scale of the packaging industry in Japan.

"The packaging industry is a hidden giant industry. In Japan, the packaging industry ranks seventh in scale after the food and beverage, building and construction, automobile, electronic and electrical equipment, computer and electrical communication, and steel and iron.

"All sales of packaging products in 1993 - in other words, the full range of the packaging industry - accounted for Y 6.67 million (US $55.6 million). This figure is 4.5% more than the data in statistics from the Japan Packaging Institute. This difference is mainly because the data of the institute doesn't include sales of such packaging products as: bag-in-box, paperboard tray, composite can for beverages, molded pulp tray, molded pulp cushioning material, laminated tube, multilayer plastic blow-molded bottle, polyacrylonitrile thermo-formed container, household plastic wrap, household aluminum foil wrap, paper and plastic envelope, plastic closure, plastic shrinkable label, staple, plastic net, steel strapping, steel foil and among others. In contrast to this, the data from Japan Packaging Consultants Corp. include sales of all these packaging products."

The top Japanese packaging firm is Toyo Seikan with more than $5 billion in sales. It's also the second largest integrated packaging company worldwide, following on the heels of American National Can.

The Toyo Seikan group is also the largest group in Japan with internal companies ranging from Tokan Kogyo, corrugated, to Toyo Glass. They hold 11.3% of all Japanese packaging product sales.

Kirin Brewery tops the list of major packaging users. The company's annual packaging consumption is approximately $87 million, mostly for beer and soft drinks.

In contrast to the US, where captive manufacture is declining, Kirin produces a major portion of its glass bottles through KYC, a joint venture with Yamamura Glass. The second largest packaging user is Sapporo Breweries. Fully integrated, it manufactures its own aluminum cans, crowns, closures and glass bottles.

Flexible packaging products are oddly dispersed throughout the entire study. Chapter 5, entitled "Plastic Films," is perhaps the most comprehensive section on flexible packaging. Papers are in Chapter 2 and aluminum foil in Chapter 3. There is also an interesting section entitled, "Plastic Extrusion Coat/Laminating Materials," which is Chapter 7.

Chapter 5 is divided into 18 sections, each dealing with a separate plastic film. Section 17 is titled "Flexible Containers," and Section 18 is "Plastic and Textile Bags." Film sections are fairly inclusive with materials ranging from polyvinyl chloride to TPX.

Section 15, which discusses coextruded multilayer films is quite good. Once again, the reader is overwhelmed by statistical data. The report notes that around 1967, Dainippon Inc. and Chemical Inc. produced the first polyolefin-based coextruded multilayer films through Nippon Zellerbach W., a joint venture with Crown Zellerbach. More than 101,000 tons of coextruded multi-layer film were produced in 1993.

Every conceivable table is included in the section ranging from coextruded film type and end use to future trends. The report states, "In the polyolefin-based coextruded multilayer film area, Dainippon Chemicals is proud of an overwhelming market share as a pioneer, and by Idemitsu Petrochemical, Tosero, Ozaki Light Chemical and Okura.

"However, both Idemitsu and Tosero press hard on Dainippon. In the field of nylon-based coextruded films, more than 80% of the total are occupied by five companies: Toray Synthetic Film, Mitsubishi Plastics, Unitika and Kohjin.

"Representative polyvinylidene-chloride-based coextruded film manufacturers include Asahi Chemical Industry, Kureha Chemical Industry, Grace Japan, and Lifan Kogyo among others. In this area, W. R. Grace first introduced a barrier bag for the Cryovac and Japan Systems to the Japanese market through its Japanese corporation, Grace Japan."

"Leading manufacturers of ethylene-vinyl-alcohol-based coextruded multilayer films include: Kurcha Chemical Industry, Sumitomo Bakelite, Mitsubishi Plastics, Dainippon, Ink Plast, Kuriron Kasei, Chugoku Resin and among others."

Future developments discussed include the mention that Nisseki Plast has succeeded in developing five-layer coextruded multilayer-oriented films through the use of its own orientation technology.

Material composition is nylon/ethylene-vinyl alcohol/linear low-density polyethylene for nylon, polypropylene/ethylene-vinyl alcohol/polypropylene for nylon, and high-density polyethylene/ethylene-vinyl alcohol/high-density polyethylene for nylon.

In addition, Kureha Chemical Industry has succeeded in development of new coextruded multilayer films in which polyvinylidene fluoride is used in the surface and polyvinyl chloride in the back side.

Section 16b discusses vacuum-metallized films by type and end-use application. Table 5-88 is interesting since it reports on the quantity of metallized film produced by type.

Cast polypropylene accounts for more than 50% of all metallized film produced, with polyethylene terephthalate following closely. About 16 converters metallize film in Japan, and Toyo Metallizing has a 12.8% market share.

Chapter 7, titled "Plastic Extrusion Coat/Laminating Materials," is also valuable and informative.

Statistics include data on the resins used in extrusion including low-density polyethylene, linear low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and ionomers.

In the linear low-density polyethylene extrusion coat/laminated film category, the report states that more than 80% of the total amount produced is used in the packaging of foods and the remaining 20% is used in the packaging of nonfoods.

The breakdown is 20% used for pickles and soybean paste, 16% for confectionaries and bakery products, 14% used for instant foods, 12% for frozen foods and retortable foods, 9% used for condiments and 4% for fresh foods and dried foods.

The report also covers the production of labels, tags and seals.

With nearly 120 manufacturers, the industry produced about $1 billion of products in 1993. Leading manufacturers include Dai-Nippon Printing, Avery, Toppan, Modern Plastic, Sayama Kako and Takara.

Fuji Seal Industry commands more than 45% of the shrink-plastic label market.

The section on printing inks notes that offset inks are the most used, followed by special gravure inks, flexo inks and letterpress inks. About 60 companies produce inks for packaging uses.

Japan's Packaging Business is well done, superbly researched and valuable to all interested in the breakdown of packaging in Japan.

Missing is analytical data and discussions of the numerous tables. If there was an attempt to include this information in the report, it would be more valuable and would command a greater price.

For a copy, please send $400 to: Intercon, 5200 Badger Rd., Crooked River Ranch, OR 97760; 503/548-1447; fax, 503/548-1618.

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