South Korea Paper Packaging

South Korea’s Rising paper packaging industry


South Korea has emerged as one of the major players in the global paper packaging industry. The country’s paper packaging sector has seen tremendous growth over the last decade driven by strong demand from both domestic as well as international markets. In this article, we will take a deeper look at South Korea Paper Packaging industry, key trends, growth drivers and future outlook.

Growth of the Korean domestic market

South Korea’s own consumption needs have significantly expanded the demand for paper-based packaging materials such as carton boxes, paper bags, labels and other paper products. With a growing and ageing population, South Korea has witnessed a rapid change in consumer habits and preferences. This has positively impacted the food and beverage, personal care, healthcare and e-commerce sectors which are large consumers of paper-based packaging.

According to the Korea Paper Association, domestic consumption of paper packaging grew at a CAGR of 5% during 2010-2020, which is much higher than global paper consumption growth of around 1-2% during the same period. Growing health awareness, easy accessibility and increasing affordability have led to boom in the food delivery and e-commerce sectors in South Korea which rely heavily on paper packaging. The Covid-19 pandemic further accelerated this trend, driving higher domestic demand for paper packaging in 2020.

Changing consumer habits boosting demand

Growing preference for eco-friendly packaging
Healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors stimulate growth
Boom in the e-commerce driving packaging needs

Korean companies lead innovation in paper packaging

Korean paper packaging companies like Nextea, Smurfit Kappa Korea and Dongwha Graphic are at the forefront of product innovation. They are investing heavily in R&D to develop more specialized, sustainable and technologically advanced packaging solutions. For example, some companies have developed smart and interactive paper packaging that can track product freshness, provide usage guidance to consumers and enable engagement through augmented reality.

South Korean companies are also global leaders in recycled and barrier paper packaging materials. Nextea has pioneered the development of recyclable and compostable paper materials that can replace plastics in food and consumer packaging. Meanwhile, Smurfit Kappa Korea offers a variety of sustainable paper packaging made from recycled content optimized for perishable food, pharmaceutical and industrial applications.

– R&D investments driving product innovation

Leadership in recycled and barrier paper materials
Advances in printing, lamination and coating technologies
Focus on developing sustainable and eco-friendly solutions

Rising exports propel industry growth

Powered by strong domestic consumption as well as capability to produce wide array of value-added paper packaging solutions, South Korean companies have been aggressively expanding exports. According to trade statistics, South Korea’s paper packaging exports grew at an average annual rate of 8% during 2010-2020, with major export markets being China, US, Japan, ASEAN countries and Europe.

Key packaging products exported include carton boxes, flexible pouches, labels, Display Ready Packaging (DRP) for retail and eco-friendly food service paper products. The country’s paper exports are expected to receive a further impetus driven by several free trade agreements signed with major trading partners in recent years. Overall, exports have emerged as a major growth driver with paper packaging becoming one of South Korea’s high value-added exports.

– China emerges as top export destination

Free trade pacts opening new opportunities
Carton boxes, flexible pouches lead exports
Growing preference for Korean sustainable packaging
Future outlook remains positive on robust domestic and export demand

Outlook for continued growth

Going forward, several trends indicate strong prospects for further expansion of South Korea’s paper packaging industry in the coming years. Firstly, domestic demand drivers like e-commerce, FMCG and pharmaceutical sectors are projected to maintain higher than average growth. Secondly, companies are investing to develop differentiating packaging solutions centered around sustainability, digitization and consumer convenience which will help drive exports.

Lastly, trade deals and Korea’s image as a high-tech manufacturing hub position it well to tap into global opportunities in both developing as well as developed markets. The Korean government is also supporting the industry through initiatives focused on innovation, sustainability transition, trade promotion and skill development. As a result, industry experts forecast South Korea’s paper packaging output to cross US$15 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of over 5% during 2020-25. This will further strengthen the country’s position among the global leaders in the dynamic paper packaging landscape.

Overall, backed by strong fundamentals of growing domestic consumption, progressive industry players and strategic focus on high-value exports, South Korea seems poised for continued leadership in international markets with its thriving paper packaging business. Both traditional and new-age segments present immense headroom for further expansion as more innovative and sustainable solutions emerge from this progressiveAsian nation.



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