Mexico City — Flexible packaging is boosting Dow Chemical's resin sales in Mexico.
The flexible packaging market "is the area that we have most of our focus on with our polyethylene resins," Dow executive Paloma Alonso said at Plastimagen. "We're seeing annual growth of 6 percent."
Alonso serves as Latin America commercial vice president for packaging and specialty plastics for Dow, a unit of DowDuPont Inc. Plastics and chemicals giants Dow of Midland, Mich., and Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont Co. merged earlier this year.
Since the merger, Alonso said that Dow's flexible packaging business has been able to incorporate ethylene copolymers made by DuPont. Those materials often are used as barrier layers in packaging.
At Plastimagen, she added that pouches are very well-developed in the Latin American market but that they remain "a big growth area." The firm also is looking at new flexible packaging categories.
In addition to new flexible PE grades, Dow has introduced new grades of PE for cups in the rigid packaging market. New grades of EPDM also have been introduced for the automotive sector.
A major new PE expansion made by Dow in Freeport, Texas, also will help the Mexican market.
"Mexico is a very natural market for us," Alonso said. "There's some pent-up demand here. Packaging companies now are buying five-layer and seven-layer machines that are more sophisticated and can use more of our materials."
Dow's Mexican supply chain and customers mostly have recovered from supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August.
"Things were difficult for a few weeks, but we kept our customers whole and were able to supply them with material," Alonso said. "I think in the long term, it will be seen as a hiccup for the industry."
Dow and other material suppliers also are keeping an eye on possible changes to NAFTA policies.
"We'll have to wait and see the impact, but our focus and attention for the Mexican market is independent of what happens [in the United States]," Alonso said. "Whatever happens, we're going to be here."