Future growth in Australia's plastic packaging industry depends on Australian food processors increasing exports to Asia, according to Gavin Williams, chief executive of the Packaging Council of Australia. A new Australian study, ``Plastics Packaging in Australia 1995-1997,'' predicts annual growth rates of 4 percent for rigid plastic packaging and 2 percent for flexible plastic packaging.
The study, compiled by Sydney, Australia-based research firm BIS Shrapnel Pty. Ltd., involved surveys of 100 Australian plastic packaging converters and extruders and 400 interviews with end-user, rigid and flexible plastic packaging firms.
The study found that in 1994, Australia's plastic packaging industry was worth A$1.6 billion, (US$1.21 billion) or 27 percent of Australia's A$6 billion (US$4.55 billion) packaging market, and was continuing to gain market share from metal.
Williams said Australian plastics packaging firms could aid growth rates by taking market share from rivals or replacing other forms of packaging.
``But the real growth is in Asia. In countries like Indonesia, plastic packaging is growing at up to 9 percent annually,'' he said.
Williams said Australia's packaging industry is relatively mature, but increasing incomes in Asia have led to more demand for processed foods and, subsequently, plastic packaging.
``If Australian food processors can be successful in winning Asian export contracts, plastic packaging growth will also increase,'' he said. ``Therefore, it is in the interests of the Australian packaging industry to work with food processors.''
Williams said Australia's packaging and food industries are sharing data and developing products together to meet particular Asian countries' needs.
He said plastics is the growth packaging material worldwide, particularly PET and flexible packaging.