The global molded pulp packaging market value has been estimated at USD 4,780.9 million in 2023, which is expected to reach USD 6,469.3 million by 2030, progressing with a CAGR of 4.5% during 2024–2030. This is attributed to the increasing concerns over plastic pollution in waterbodies, on land, and even in the air and space. It is estimated that around 10 million tons of plastic waste enters the ocean every year. Most marine plastic pollution originates from the aquaculture and fishing industry.
Moreover, with users switching from plastic to pulp-based materials, the key players are expanding their portfolio of related products. For instance, in July 2022, Preferred Packaging announced the expansion of its GreenStream sustainable packaging portfolio with new molded pulp trays, which are made from plant fibers. These trays are recyclable in municipalities with collection systems.
Wood pulp is dominating the market owing to the fact that it is biodegradable and recyclable and products made from it can easily replace plastics. It is made from renewable raw material, such as stems of trees and recycled paper and, thus, is a sustainable choice.
Moreover, the non-wood pulp category is expected to grow with the highest rate during the forecast period. This is ascribed to the increasing concern over the cutting of trees, which has been leading to deforestation over centuries. Moreover, the initiation of movements by numerous social organizations to reduce logging is expected to propel the growth of the market in this category.
By molded type, the transfer category accounts for the largest share in the market. Transferring is a method of molding plastics in which material is softened by preheating and then forced into a closed, heated mold.
The thermoformed category is expected to grow rapidly over the forecast period. This is because thermoformed molded pulp packaging is used for mobile phones, trays for packaging of wine bottles, and trays for cosmetic products.
The trays category contributes the highest revenue in the product segment as trays are used for fruits, eggs, and other food products due to their eco-friendly nature. They are biodegradable, made from recycled materials, and offer protection to fragile items during transportation. Moreover, apart from food & beverage, trays are used in various industries, such as electronics and healthcare, providing a sustainable alternative to traditional packaging materials.
By application, food packaging holds the largest share in the market as packaging made from molded pulp is widely used for transporting and storing different food items. This is because this kind of packaging is highly compatible with the food and does not alter its taste. It is often used for egg cartons, takeout containers, and fruit trays. The molded pulp provides cushioning and absorbs moisture, thus offering protection to perishable goods both from shocks and rot.
APAC is the largest regional market, attributed to the increasing concerns over plastic pollution, growing food and electronics industries, and surging population. Moreover, the rising environmental concerns and a growing awareness of eco-friendly practices have fueled the adoption of molded pulp packaging.
North America also holds a significant share in the molded pulp packaging market. This is attributed to the stringent environmental regulations and increasing knowledge of plastic pollution, which contribute to the demand for eco-friendly packaging. Moreover, the players in this region are focusing on mergers and acquisitions to expand their presence. For instance, in October 2022, Specialized Packaging Group (SPG) announced the acquisition of Pacific Pulp Molding Inc., a California-based manufacturer of molded pulp and molded fiber products.
Some of the key players are Brødrene Hartmann A/S, Genpack LLC, Huhtamäki Oyj, Sabert Corporation, Pro-Pac Packaging Limited, James Cropper Plc, and Henry Molded Products Inc.