Demand by Region
Demand for pressure sensitive tape in the packaging and shipping market is projected to advance 3.4% per year to 37.5 billion square meters in 2025.
Demand in the US is projected to post below average growth, with gains limited by competition from water-activated tapes in corrugated box sealing applications. This factor is also expected to play a role in Western Europe and Japan, resulting in market growth below the global average going forward.
The Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast regions, on the other hand, will record relatively robust packaging and shipping tape sales advances:
Competition from water-activated tape will remain limited in these parts of the world, as price sensitivity continues to be a strong factor in tape purchasing decisions.
As personal incomes across the globe rise, demand for manufactured consumer goods that are typically distributed in corrugated boxes at the wholesale level – such as consumer appliances, food, and clothing – will drive demand for corrugated boxes and carton sealing tape.
Global demand for pressure sensitive tapes in the packaging and shipping market is forecast to grow 3.4% per year to 37.5 billion metric tons in 2025.
Carton sealing tapes dominate the packaging and shipping market, accounting for 95% of demand in 2020. Although both paper and plastic versions are used, biaxially oriented polypropylene is the dominant backing material. Reinforced strapping and bundling tape is used in applications requiring additional strength, although carton sealing tape is available in grades suitable for a large majority of packaging and shipping uses. Other, much less widely used tapes in packaging and shipping include surface protection tape, transparent tape, and masking tape.
Pressure sensitive tapes for packaging and shipping applications compete primarily with non-pressure sensitive joining and sealing products, such as:
tapes with adhesives activated by organic solvents, heat, or water (also known as gummed tapes)
mechanical fasteners and strapping
Water-activated tapes are available in two main types:
reinforced, which incorporate fiberglass strands, cannot be torn by recipients
non-reinforced, which can be torn, are used for lighter packages
Until recently only the non-reinforced products were considered recyclable. However, the reinforced water-activated tapes may also be recycled with boxes when done correctly.
Water-activated tapes typically require dispensers to activate the adhesive and take slightly longer to adhere than PSA tape. However, gummed tapes cannot be removed without visible damage, offering enhanced security over PSA tape, which can be removed by such methods as applying heat.
These advantages will allow strong growth for water-activated tape relative to pressure sensitive tape in the packaging and shipping segment, notably in e-commerce applications. While gummed tapes are not expected to overtake PSA tapes for carton sealing applications, they will continue to see faster growth, especially in e-commerce applications.
Water-activated tapes will see the strongest gains in North America and Western Europe, but pressure sensitive carton sealing tapes will remain favored in the Asia/Pacific region due to lower prices.
Impact of E-Commerce & Home Delivery
Rapid growth in e-commerce (both B2B and business-to-consumer, or B2C) is one of the most important factors impacting the global pressure sensitive tape industry. This is primarily due to its influence on the packaging and shipping market, not just in the volume of packages being shipped, but also changes to the types of packaging and shipping containers that are used.
Widespread internet connectivity is key to the growth of a nation’s e-commerce market, as all such sales occur online. Therefore, if internet penetration is low in a country, then fewer local consumers are able to participate in the digital economy, resulting in both:
lower domestic per capita e-commerce revenues
greater growth opportunities going forward as connectivity rates rise and the market develops
Consumers in countries with high GDP and advanced economies tend to have higher incomes – which correlates with higher consumer spending and greater e-commerce sales – while countries with lower per capita GDP generally have fewer e-commerce sales because local consumers are less able to afford the tools needed to engage with retailers via the internet.
Population size has a large effect on the level of e-commerce sales in a country:
Countries with large populations have significant potential for online sales because they make more purchases overall, and thus they tend to have larger e-commerce markets than those with smaller populations.
Urbanization also influences e-commerce sales because urban areas are more likely to have infrastructure critical to e-commerce.
Global e-commerce sales are projected to rise 12% annually to $8.1 trillion in 2025. The Asia/Pacific region will account for the majority of gains (58%) primarily due to the rapidly expanding Chinese market, which dominates regional e-commerce activity in part because of the country’s large population.
Included in the scope of this study is a variety of tape products, including:
carton sealing tape
surface protection tapes
strapping and bundling tape
Excluded from the scope of the study are water-activated/gummed, heat-activated, and other non-pressure sensitive tapes; related pressure sensitive items such as contact papers and protective films; and pressure sensitive labels.
Historical data are provided for 2010, 2015, and 2020, with forecasts for 2025 and 2030. The term “demand” refers to “apparent consumption” and is defined as production (also referred to variously as “shipments”, “output”, or “supply”) from a country’s domestic manufacturing facilities plus imports, minus exports. “Demand” is used interchangeably with the terms “market”, “sales”, and “consumption”. Data are presented in metric tons and US dollars.
Global demand for packaging and shipping tape is projected to expand 3.4% per year to 37.5 billion square meters in 2025, supported by:
increasing demand for consumer goods – commonly packaged in corrugated boxes at the wholesale level – in low-income countries experiencing growth in personal incomes
growth in manufacturing activity worldwide
rising use of e-commerce globally, as some brick-and-mortar purchases are replaced with those that require additional packaging that utilizes tape
However, growing competition from water-activated tape in e-commerce applications – most notably in high-income countries where the higher cost of water-activated tape is not a barrier to use – will limit stronger gains.
While Shipping Applications Dominate Demand, Opportunities Exist for Packaging Tapes
The ubiquitous need to ship manufactured goods has lead tapes used in packaging – predominantly carton sealing, but also strapping and bundling tape to an extent – to dominate demand in this market. However, products like surface protection tape that are used as part of primary or secondary packaging are expected to see much more rapid expansion. These products protect the surfaces of high-value products like electronic screens and the surface of appliances, and benefit both from continued strong demand for these products as well as from design trends that favor larger surfaces, higher value finishes, and reduced sightlines.
Though China Drives the Global Market, India & Indonesia Are Expanding Quickly
Through 2025, demand for packaging and shipping tape in the Asia/Pacific region is expected to expand at a pace slightly above the global average, growing 3.8% per year to 22.4 billion square meters. Most of the gains will occur in the Chinese market, which is expected to account for 39% of global demand increases. China is a massive manufacturing hub and is especially strong in areas like electronics production, where both packaging and shipping tapes are widely used.
However, the fastest gains will be seen in the less-developed markets in India and Indonesia, where growing manufacturing activity and rising personal incomes will drive demand for packaging and shipping tape. In addition, these countries represent targets for manufacturers that wish to operate in outside of China.