Flexible food packaging to reach 800 billion pack units globally by end of decade

Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015

According to a new report by Canadean, an estimated 786,095 million units of flexible packaging will be consumed within global retail food markets in 2018. This means flexible packaging is set to expand its share in the food packaging market even further, reaching 53.1% in the next three years. While glass, metal and paper packaging are slowly falling out of fashion, innovative flexible packaging such as pouches is becoming more popular. The Canadean report finds that the global demand for pouches in the food market will grow by 2,489 million pack units between 2014 and 2017 – a 14.9% increase in the total food pouches market size. Metal, on the other hand, will record the slowest growth in the food packaging market, increasing at a marginal 2,5% CAGR between 2013 and 2018.  

Microwavable pouches to replace tinned products

“Pouches are both lightweight and durable, meaning products can be stored more easily in cupboards, are less likely to get damaged and are lighter to transport. They also provide time-scarce consumers with instant meals and on-the-go snacks,” says Kirsty Nolan, analyst at Canadean. Microwavable pouches, for example, are on the verge of replacing tinned ready-meal products. “The outer plastic layers of microwavable pouches are designed to cool quickly while keeping contents hot, allowing consumers to eat straight from the microwave,” says Nolan.

Campbell is one of the manufacturers that is already capitalising on this trend. The recently released ‘Go Soup’ pouches target the younger, time-scarce generation of food lovers. “The flavours were specifically designed to appeal to more adventurous palettes and the packaging was introduced to compliment the product with a greater volume. The packaging also features a transparent bottom, which allows consumers to assess the contents and its ingredients before purchase,” adds Nolan.

Why are pouches growing so strongly in the packaging market?


    Reduce costs with lightweight, thin plastic walls and no outer packaging
    Feature easy-to-open and re-sealable grooves or zips
    Minimise waste through sustainable and biodegradable material
    Improve the shelf-life of the product though multiple plastic layers


All numbers used in this text are based on the Canadean report: 'Aligning packaging innovation with consumer trends in food - the impact of current and future behaviors in packaging'

*Figures relate to retail packed food items in line with Canadean’s overall food market coverage

Please get in contact if you have any questions to this or other Canadean surveys. Analysts are available to comment. Contact the Canadean press office on +44 (0) 207 936 6536 or email

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