Smithers forecasts global sales for plastic packaging to increase to $2.3 billion and global barrier coatings to $2.4 billion.

Global functional additive sales for plastic packaging are forecast to grow during 2020–25 at an annual average rate of 5.3% to approximately $2.3 billion from $1.7 billion in 2019. Whilst global barrier coating sales for plastic packaging are forecast to grow during 2020–25 at an annual average rate of 4.9% to $2.4 billion to $1.8 billion.

Functional additives and barrier coatings are used across a wide range of food, beverages and non-food packaging markets. Food is by far the largest end-use sector for functional additives and barrier coatings in plastic packaging.

With rapidly increasing demand for packaging materials that give even greater protection to their contents, a variety of barrier technologies have been commercialised that preserve, protect and optimise product shelf life, reduce the need for preservatives, provide transparency and gloss, and serve as a printing substrate. Without barrier packaging, perishable goods such as food, beverages and pharmaceuticals would be susceptible to a wide range of deterioration processes.

Barrier coatings are continuing to evolve and complement emerging resins and manufacturing processes. One advantage of coatings is that small quantities of material can produce the required performance, which cuts costs and resource use and may improve recycling. A disadvantage is that coating application is an extra manufacturing step and may require a high initial capital investment.

Smithers’ analysis for ‘The Future of Functional Additives & Barrier Coatings for Plastics Packaging to 2025’ identifies the following key trends and drivers for the industry over the next five years:


  • Economic influences – the outlook for functional additives and barrier coatings demand for plastic packaging will be influenced by global economic growth trends over the forecast period
  • Demographic and lifestyle influences – recent changes across consumer lifestyles are influencing consumer decisions, from growing urbanisation, growing middle class, greater increase in health and wellness, ‘on-the-go’ consumption and more
  • Convenience – time-pressured consumers want convenience products and packaging such as microwavable ready meals and pre-cut vegetables
  • Sustainable Packaging – brand owners are responding to consumers’ environmental concerns in several ways; these include package ‘light weighting’ by reducing material usage without impairing pack performance, using recycled plastic and adopting bioplastic packaging
  • Modern retailing – a shift towards a more centralised structure of grocery retailing has inevitably led to higher levels of packaging, particularly for fresh foods, chilled foods and baked products
  • Consumer concern on food waste and food safety – there is growing use of active packaging technologies such as ethylene and oxygen scavenging, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-fungal additives
  • Regulatory developments – the European Union has introduced regulations in relation to food contact, recycling of packaging waste and greater use of recycled plastics in product packaging.



Smithers’ latest report, ‘The Future of Functional Additives & Barrier Coatings for Plastics Packaging to 2025’ examines the future of functional additives and barrier coatings for plastic packaging. It quantifies current and future sales of functional plastic packaging additives and barrier coatings and explains key market drivers and emerging technology trends. It gives market sizes and forecasts for functional packaging additive and barrier coating products, end-use sectors and selected national markets over the next five years from 2020 to 2025.