Packaging Demand Growth Forecast for Asia

A recent report by Global Market Insights predicts demand for lubricant packaging in Asia-Pacific will grow at a compound annual rate of 3.5 percent from 2017 to 2024, driven by the regions increasing thirst for lubes, especially from India and China. However, packaging suppliers in the two countries have a more conservative outlook.

Kline & Co. consultants projected Indias annual lubricants demand to grow at a compound annual rate of 2.5 percent out to 2021. Packaging suppliers will benefit from that trend, but not all companies should expect to benefit that much, partly because of shifts in types of package used by the industry, said Adhip Pal Chaudhuri, a manager at Balmer Lawrie, a Kolkata-based supplier of greases and travel services that also manufactures steel drums for oil and chemical packaging.

We didnt see significant sales growth in the first half of 2018 from a year ago, even though the lube industry itself might be experiencing fast growth, he told Lube Report.

Steel drum as a packaging material are growing at a slower pace than the lube industry, he said, explaining that demand is shifting from steel drums to plastic drums and smaller packs.

The Global Market Insights report does note that plastic held a major share in the global lube packaging market in 2016, while aluminum was the most popular metal material because of its light weight and lower cost.

Slight changes in packaging shapes occurred over the past two years, Chaudhuri said. Steel thickness is a good example. By tradition, Indian lube companies use 10/10/10 steel drums, which are 1 millimeter thick on top, bottom and sides. But recently, the market began using 10/9/10 drums, which have sides that are just 0.9 mm thick and which have long been adopted outside India.

We think the change could be triggered by cost pressure. Of course, better logistics such as improved road conditions also contributed to the change, because drum walls can be thinner if roads are less bumpy, he said, adding that state-owned oil companies such as Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum are leading the shift.

Some packaging suppliers are enjoying levels of growth such as Global Market Insights forecasts - or even higher.

We did experience about 10 percent in sales growth in the first half of the year, but it fell short of our expectation, said Chen Tao, CEO of Mido Pack in Kunshan, Jiangsu province. He said motor oil clients contributed more than industrial lube clients to Midos sales.

Drums at Houghton plant in China.

Photo courtesy of Houghton International