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Global demand for packaging adhesives and sealants is forecast to grow 1.7% per year to 4.5 million metric tons with a value of $11.6 billion in 2025. More efficient adhesives continue to be adopted in packaging, which limits volume growth, particularly in the large markets of the US, Western Europe, and Japan. However, the relatively higher cost of these higher performance products will boost gains in value terms.
Opportunities do remain within the global packaging adhesives and sealants market, with gains will be supported by:
- rising personal incomes and growing urbanization in developing economies, which will increase the availability and affordability of packaged consumer goods
- gains in e-commerce, even in the more mature markets of North America and Western Europe
- a worldwide rebound in manufacturing activity, especially in the smaller economies of Southeast Asia that are facing increasing demand from export partners for a wide variety of goods
Hot Melt Formulations Will Offer Good Opportunities for Suppliers of Packaging Adhesives
Of all adhesives and sealants used in packaging applications, hot melts are expected to have the best opportunities. Hot melts are stronger compared to water-based and natural formulations, and they are not as likely to dissolve when exposed to moisture. They will benefit from continued strong growth in e-commerce, particularly as more heavy and perishable goods (such as those requiring inclusion of ice or dry ice) are shipped.
Sustainability Concerns Will Support Renewed Demand for Natural Adhesives
Natural adhesives have long been the most widely used type in packaging applications, though the market for these products softened following the initial boom in e-commerce, as they do not offer all of the performance advantages of chemically formulated products.
However, strong pushes for sustainable packaging have led to renewed interest in natural adhesives, as starch-based products are environmentally sustainable and easily recyclable. Additionally, they are relatively low cost, easy to use, and have low emissions of natural-adhesives, all of which make them favorable solutions for packaging suppliers.
Sustainability in packaging is a complicated topic, and manufacturers will need to continue to balance sustainability with performance, as adhesives that are not strong enough to withstand the weight of a packaged product can lead to product damage, waste, and negative consumer sentiment.
Demand by Region
The global packaging market for adhesives and sealants is forecast to expand 1.7% per year to 4.5 million metric tons in 2025. Gains will be supported by:
- improving personal income levels and expanding urban populations in countries (such as China and India) that are, in turn, fueling purchases of packaged goods
- worldwide growth of e-commerce
However, stronger growth will be restrained by:
- mature packaging markets in high-income nations in Western Europe and North America, as well as Australia and Japan
- adoption of more efficient adhesive technologies – including improved formulations and application processes such as tankless systems – that enable the use of smaller volumes
Paper & Paperboard
The paper packaging market segment accounted for 71% of demand for adhesives and sealants used in the production of packaging in 2020, bolstered by the ubiquitous use of adhesives in the sealing of:
- boxes (including corrugated, solid fiber, folding, and set-up)
- paper retail bags and shipping sacks
- sanitary food containers
- tubes, cans, and drums
Demand for adhesives and sealants in paper and paperboard packaging is forecast to expand 1.9% per year to 3.3 million metric tons in 2025, spurred by an acceleration in manufacturing activity. Gains will benefit from increasing e-commerce activity globally, which will boost use of corrugated cardboard boxes and paper envelopes. Natural, water-based, and hot melt adhesives and sealants are the most commonly used adhesives in paper packaging, and will see the best opportunities in e-commerce applications.
Despite gains in paper packaging production and e-commerce activity, stronger adhesive growth will be restrained by trends toward the use of better performing, smaller dosage hot melts in place of water-based and starch-based adhesives.
North America: Packaging Adhesive & Sealant Market Size & Historical Trends
North America, defined as the United States, Canada, and Mexico, is the second largest regional packaging adhesives and sealants market globally, accounting for 21% of demand in 2020. The region’s leading position is supported by large, mature manufacturing industries (that utilize a wide variety of packaging produced using adhesives and sealants) in the US and Canada.
North America is dominated by the massive US market, and regional trends generally track patterns in US demand. The North American market suffered declines in 2019 and 2020 due to economic weakness in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, demand recovered in 2021 alongside manufacturing activity.