Just for fun, stop and examine the top of the next beverage bottle, drug vial or tooth paste tube you buy. Chances are good that it is topped off with a plastic cap or other kind of plastic enclosure. And no wonder: plastic caps and closures dominate the market. U.S. demand for plastic caps and closures is forecast to increase 4.0% to $9.5 billion in 2014, reaching 275 billion units.
Obviously, that’s good news for those in the industry. Plastic caps and closures, which make up 79% of unit demand in 2009, will post above-average unit and value advances, mirroring penetration by plastic containers into numerous markets. Plastic cap and closure demand is being driven by the long-term shift in consumer packaging away from glass and metal containers to plastic alternatives.
Moreover, the compatibility of plastic caps with glass containers and the use of such caps on paper-based beverage cartons will boost growth as well, according to the latest figures. However, the not-so-good news is that gains will decelerate from the stratospheric 1999-2009 performance, reflecting the already deep penetration of plastic containers in most markets.
Market gains will be boosted by greater use of more expensive dispensing closures and child-resistant closures. Further gains will be supported by the continued popularity of single-serving containers, especially in the beverage market, and increasing use of plastic containers for products formerly distributed in glass and metal containers.
Beverages, which represent over 50% of demand, are the largest market for caps and closures. Through 2014, beverage applications will experience below-average gains based on weak consumption outlooks for major segments such as carbonated soft drinks and beer, and a sharp deceleration for bottled water. Pharmaceutical applications will register the fastest gains through 2014, aided by above-average growth among older segments of the population and the need to comply with regulations and standards governing the child-resistant, senior-friendly and security features of pharmaceutical packaging.
So here’s to you, plastic cap! You are indeed ubiquitous… and moving rapidly toward omnipresence!