Demand for aluminium foil, including foil for packaging, showed a modest recovery of over 1% in the first nine months of the year, compared with a volume drop of more than 5% during 2011.
The European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA) said that the 1.2% tonnage growth to September reflected both more positive trends in thinner-gauge foil for flexible packaging and a 5% decrease in thicker grades for semi-rigid containers.
Sales of the thinner grades used, for example, in pouch laminates fell by nearly 8% last year.
EAFA communications director Guido Aufdemkamp pointed out: "The apparently poor semi-rigid foil performance does not take into account downgauging so does not necessarily translate as a 5% drop in the number of packs." The category includes smoothwall and other trays for ready meals, foodservice containers, but also niche packs such as the capsules for Nestlé's Nespresso coffee.
The recovery in foil laminate sales reflected the growth in flexible packaging, EAFA said. In areas such as soups, dairy and coffee uptake has largely been driven by barrier requirements. "But in categories such as confectionery, the deadfold capability or optical characteristics may be just as important," Aufdemkamp said.