Plastics sector is still 'fragmented'

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Plastic

Plastics sector is still  'fragmented'
The rigid plastics packaging sector remains relatively fragmented, with significant potential for further consolidation, RPC group chief executive Ron Marsh has told Food Manufacture.

RPC acquired Danish-based international injection moulding company Superfos for over £200M last December. And to judge from Marsh's remarks, the company's growth is not likely to stop there.

As he underlined, the rigid plastics industry remains more fragmented than flexibles, partly because it is more a collection of disparate niche sectors than a uniform industry. "As a result, there is still plenty of scope for consolidation,"​ he said. "This is well illustrated by RPC, which while recognised as the European market leader in rigid plastics packaging actually converts less than 5% of the polymer used in these applications across Europe."

The growth of suppliers by acquisition is not without its benefits for the UK food industry, according to RPC, particularly in injection moulding. "This sector is probably innovating today faster than other parts of the rigid plastics industry,"​ said Marsh. "So having a larger group enables more resource to be deployed in the area of design and development."

RPC and Superfos have separate development programmes. "But there has also been a significant knowledge exchange, which has benefited both parties, and ultimately, of course, our customers," he added. "Areas that we have been working on include lightweighting, new methods of decoration and barrier technologies."

At plastics consultancy Applied Market Information (AMI), senior research manager Carole Kluth suggested that the positive effects of consolidation in rigid plastics so far outweighed the negatives. "There may be issues around the ability of smaller firms to develop newer products and also be able or willing to supply larger end-users," ​she said. Those end-users typically wanted to work with firms that could supply globally, she said. "They are very rigorous on costs, which can squeeze the life out of the margins for smaller companies."

Compared with firms supplying other sectors, from automotive to household goods, the plastics packaging sector remains relatively robust, said Kluth. "There has been some consolidation by plastics packaging groups of their UK operations. But availability of supply is unlikely to be a major issue for food and drink users."

Related news

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast