Packaging Machines on a Clear Path to Growth and Sustainability

Packaging Machine
Packaging Machine, Image: Messe München

The global demand for packaging machines in the beverage and liquid food industry is once again increasing. Despite difficult conditions, there are good global prospects for machines and facilities that manufacture, bottle, and package beverages and liquid foods. This is how the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) explained the situation in the run up to drinktec.

One reason for this expected growth is that suppliers are consistently confronting the challenges of our time. For example, it is indispensible for beverage manufacturers, both today and in the future, to reduce their ecological footprint through water management, the reduction of consumable materials and overall sustainable production. In this context, the digital transformation will play a decisive role by supporting improvements in consumption and emissions data. Now more than ever, machinery manufacturers can answer the demand for more sustainable and digital production — for all global markets. 

The Forecast Shows the Highest Growth Rates for Soft Drinks until 2026: Promising for Packaging Machines

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the volume of trade in food processing and packaging machines fell around 5%, to $47 billion (USD), in 2020. In contrast, in 2021 the industry expected significant growth again, and the volume of global trade climbed 8% to $51 billion (USD). And this increase was predicted by preliminary data provided by the VDMA.

Asian markets are currently main drivers of growth in the beverage industry. According to the VDMA, Asian countries now account for almost a third of the total global consumption of soft drinks. In a global comparison, the association estimated that this market should register the largest growth rate from 2021 to 2026; bottled water, energy drinks, and carbonated drinks are particularly popular.

A rise in demand is also predicted in other markets, albeit at a lower rate. By 2026, global sales of soft drinks are expected to increase by 19% to 848 billion liters, according to the VDMA.

Global Volume Soft Drinks by Regions
Global Volume Soft Drinks, Graphic: VDMA

The Significant Role of Soft Drinks in China and India

The numbers support an optimistic view of market developments:

  • China is worth mentioning in particular: With a 45% share of sales in Asian countries, it’s the most important individual market for soft drinks.
  • However, the VDMA expects the largest growth rate from India – consumption should see an 83% increase by 2026.
  • According to Euromonitor International, the market for alcoholic beverages in Asia will grow 4% by 2025.
Top 10 Markets for Soft Drinks
Top 10 Markets for Soft Drinks in Asia, Graphic: VDMA

The increase in soft drink and alcoholic drink consumption in these markets, according to the VDMA’s assessments, is promising for the entire supply industry. Expected investment in machinery and systems to create and expand production facilities will drive growth for the countries who manufacture machine technology, such as the top five current suppliers – Germany, Italy, China, the Netherlands, and the USA. 

Modern Packaging Machines and Optimized Water Management – Creating Sustainable Production

Since water is the most important component in beverage production, the highest priority for beverage manufacturers is reducing their water-use footprint. Along with its role in the product itself, water used in processing is especially significant — in both beverage production and cleaning processes. The supply industry is preparing for challenges with:

  • Tailor-made water treatment systems, enabling beverage manufacturers to consistently reduce the use of process water. These customized smart systems are essential solutions, especially in regions with water shortages. In the presentations at drinktec Talk in Decemer 2021, industry specialists estimated the savings potential at up to 60 percent.
  • Automated intelligent systems that can also pinpoint the actual degree of contamination, for example in containers and tanks. These systems can then use this information to regulate the otherwise high consumption of water in cleaning processes. At drinktec 2022, manufacturers will build on their earlier predictions by presenting multiple efficient solutions for future challenges.

Packaging Machines Support Sustainable Production

Along with reducing water consumption, modern mechanical engineering offers multiple solutions for sustainable production. Industry approaches include reducing consumable materials, avoiding product losses and, where possible, either recycling production-related waste or channeling it into recovery processes for creating energy. 

Machinery manufacturers also support their customers‘ sustainable packaging strategies. For example, by providing solutions to reduce the use of packaging materials, such as monofilm or thinner films. Packaging material with an ever-increasing proportion of recycled content has also become a trend. This variety of materials is already mostly accessible for the packaging machines currently available, such as wraparound machines. At the same time, researchers and developers are working at full tilt to develop new packaging from residual materials. New options are then tested in trial scenarios by machine manufacturers for both processability in machinery and performance in the logistics chain – all the way to the consumer.

Beverage Manufacturers Benefits of Digital Transformation

Systematic digital transformation in mechanical engineering is instrumental to these developments. Not only does it increase efficiency, performance, and product safety, but digital solutions also offer answers to existing challenges. For instance, if seasonal variations in raw materials lead to the end product being altered, process data can be evaluated in real time, allowing for immediate countermeasures.

Another advantage of digital solutions in mechanical engineering is enabling remote support for customers – through to the virtual commissioning of new systems. Last but not least, the COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that digital connections among beverage manufacturers are useful, for both efficient communication and quick data exchange.

These potential advantages can be realized only if customers give high priority to data usage and create the conditions needed for networking of production areas, and across various levels within the company. Furthermore, companies who install packaging machines must also facilitate continual networking with the supplier. It’s the only way digital machines can reap the benefits of digitalization, such as preventive or situational maintenance and rapid adjustments when changing products. These benefits are only possible with a high level of trust between the customer and the machine manufacturer.

VDMA: Growth through Digital and Sustainable Solutions

Richard Clemens, Director of the Trade Association Food Processing and Packaging Machinery within the VDMA, the conceptual sponsor of drinktec, emphasizes: “drinktec is all about the most important issues in the industry. Regardless of the country, the beverage and food industry still has good growth prospects, if only for demographic reasons. However, attractive sectors are also characterized by very intense competition, high price pressure and increasing demands for sustainable production. This is where mechanical engineering comes into play, developing safe, efficient, and sustainable solutions.” 

drinktec 2022 is the right platform to explore the most innovative solutions in the industry today. Take this unique opportunity to meet all the relevant industry experts in one place. Start planning your visit to drinktec today, where you’ll find industry-relevant discussions and exciting lectures and help shape the future of the industry. Don’t miss drinktec 2022, happening 12 – 16 September in Munich.

Would you like to find out about current trends on the beverage market and exchange professional information? Then we invite you to take part in the next drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 12 to 16, 2022.

drinktec Blog-Team

The drinktec team writes reports on everything to do with drinktec and gives insights into what is going on behind the scenes of the trade fair.