ASEAN Flexible Packaging

ASEAN Flexible Packaging Industry Set for Growth


The flexible packaging industry in the ASEAN region is experiencing strong growth driven by increasing demand for convenience packaging from various end-use industries such as food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, personal care, and homecare. Flexible packaging offers several advantages over rigid packaging including lightweight, cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and ability to adapt to various product shapes and sizes. As living standards rise and consumption patterns change in the ASEAN countries, flexible packaging is poised to play a vital role in the packaging needs of the region.

Growth of Food Industry and Changing Lifestyles

The food industry in ASEAN Flexible Packaging countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam has been expanding rapidly on the back of growing populations, rising incomes, and changing dietary preferences of consumers towards convenience foods and ready-to-eat items. Flexible packaging acts as the ideal solution for primary as well as secondary packaging of food products by providing barrier protection and lengthening shelf life. The increasing consumption of packaged foods, snacks, ready meals as well as the booming food service industry has created robust demand drivers for flexible packaging in ASEAN.

At the same time, modern lifestyles with dual working households have led to a proliferation of convenience packaging formats like pouches, stick packs, and stand-up pouches which can be easily opened, resealed, and consumed on-the-go. Flexible packaging allows brand owners to cater to this rising need for portable food options. The growth momentum of food packaging is expected to sustain well into the future as Asian diets continue to globalize. This augurs well for the long-term prospects of ASEAN’s flexible packaging industry.

Stand-Out in Pharmaceutical Applications

The pharmaceutical sector is another key end-use vertical exhibiting strong tailwinds for flexible packaging in ASEAN countries. According to various industry reports, healthcare spending in the region has been rising substantially led by improvements in access to insurance, an aging population profile as well as growing incidence of lifestyle diseases. Additionally, ASEAN nations like Malaysia and Thailand have emerged as focal points for medical tourism attracting patients from other Asian and Western markets.

This expanding pharmaceutical landscape has boosted requirements for flexible primary packaging of tablets, capsules as well as sachets and packaging formats tailored for medical devices, topicals and diagnostics. Attributes like moisture and light protection, ease of dosing, tamper evidence as well as printable space for product information give flexible packaging an edge over other alternatives in the pharmaceutical section. Leading packaging converters are developing innovative film structures, enhanced barrier films as well as tracking solutions to meet evolving pharmaceutical needs.

Rise of Home and Personal Care

Robust growth in household income levels and consumer spending on personal care and home cleaning products has made the home and personal care category a vibrant end-market for flexible packaging across ASEAN. Packaging needs range from pouches for laundry detergents and fabric conditioners to stand-up tubes for shampoos, conditioners and hair styling items. Emerging formats like laminated stand-up pouches and re-closable bags offer improved shelf impact along with features like product dispensing and reclosure desired by brands targeting price-sensitive Southeast Asian consumers.

As beauty routines diversify in ASEAN markets led by younger demographics, there exists untapped potential for flexible solutions in cosmetics packaging as well. Pouches, sachets and laminated films provide opportunities for deluxe effects and product protection at affordable price-points. Leading packaging suppliers are launching materials focused on high barrier, printability and graphics to support branding requirements of ASEAN homecare and personal care goods. The vibrant packaging demand from these growing sectors indicates a rosy outlook for flexible packaging converters.

Sustainability Initiatives taking Centerstage

With sustainability becoming an increasingly important facet of business strategy, ASEAN flexible packaging producers are stepping up efforts towards more eco-friendly solutions. Lightweighting of film structures as well as new developments in compostable, recyclable and mono-material formats are enabling brand owners to showcase their green credentials. Mono-material flexible pouches made from a single polymer allow for improved recyclability compared to multilayer laminates. Companies are also upgrading recycling infrastructure and working with government bodies on collection programs.

On the production front, adoption of renewables, reduced emissions targets and material optimization are top sustainability priorities. End-users too favor flexible packaging thanks to attributes such as downgauging potential and space-saving on transport and storage. Collaborations within the value chain will help boost recycling rates and build out the region’s circular economy framework, placing ASEAN at the forefront of sustainable packaging innovation over the long run.

The confluence of rising living standards, evolving consumption patterns as well as focus on sustainability presents ample headroom for growth of ASEAN’s flexible packaging sector across diverse end-markets. With state-of-the-art converting technologies and customer-centric innovation, the industry is well-equipped to capitalize on new opportunities arising from this demand upswing. Continued investments and partnerships hold the key to further strengthening ASEAN’s value proposition as a vibrant flexible packaging hub serving global customers.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it