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North America Corrugated Packaging Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)

North America Corrugated Packaging Market - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)

  • March 2022
  • 139 pages
  • ID: 6246260
  • Format: PDF
  • Mordor Intelligence LLP


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The North America Corrugated Packaging Market (henceforth referred to as the market studied) was valued at USD 38.66 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 46.38 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 3.23%, from 2022 to 2027 (henceforth, referred to as the forecast period). The massive market for automotive spares creates an enormous opportunity for the corrugated board packaging vendors in this segment.

Key Highlights
Corrugated board packaging is a versatile and cost-efficient method to protect, preserve, and transport a wide range of products. The corrugated board’s attributes, such as light weightiness, biodegradability, and recyclability, have made it an integral component in the packaging industry. According to the Shopify report, by 2021, North America was contributing USD 552.6 billion, which is next to Asia (USD 831.7 billion in total e-commerce sales).
The e-commerce industry emerged as a significant player in recent years. The prominent e-commerce companies, such as Amazon, have been using corrugated board boxes for the principal packaging, and they rely on plastic packaging for individual items. Various e-commerce companies have been focusing on replacing single-use plastics with corrugated boxes and paper bags, which is expected to drive the growth of the market. Corrugated boxes used for e-commerce are more likely to be printed with high-quality graphics and customized to fit packaged contents to save on costs and increase the aesthetic impact during unboxing. Furthermore, the corrugated board packaging manufacturers directly collaborate with e-commerce vendors to provide more agile and customizable solutions. Amazon has the greatest number of manufacturers in their Amazon packaging support and supplier network, and in recent years, Canada’s largest privately-owned integrated corrugated packaging company, Atlantic Packaging Products, joined this network.
There have been various expansion, partnership, and collaboration activities by vendors in the region, to enhance their presence and position in the market. For instance, in December 2021, International Paper announced that it would build a corrugated packaging plant in Atglen, Pennsylvania, expanding its footprint in the region. The facility will allow International Paper to expand its Industrial Packaging footprint in the northeastern United States. The construction was set to begin in the first quarter of 2022, and the company expects the plant to be completely operational in the first quarter of 2023.
The rising consumer consciousness regarding sustainable packaging is encouraging the use of environment-friendly packaging products. Various companies have been focusing on providing recycled cardboard and paper as a part of their sustainability goals. In March 2020, DS Smith, a British sustainable packaging company, opened a recycling facility in Reading, its first in the United States and part of its expanded North America operations. The company’s 43,000-square-foot facility will recycle material from DS Smith’s Reading corrugated packaging plant and from other companies in the region to recover paper from packaging facilities, print shops, local distribution centers, and retailers. The company’s recycling process allows for corrugated packaging to be made, used, collected, and recycled into corrugated boxes within 14 days. The process reduces fiber in the boxes by up to 30% as per the company. In September 2021, Saica Group announced that it was investing USD 800 million for expansion in the United States over the next five years, with plans to add other manufacturing plants and a paper mill in the Midwest through acquisitions or new plant constructions. Overall, the company plans to spend USD 2.8 billion on expansions globally through 2030.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has disrupted the supply of the raw materials involved in manufacturing corrugated boxes across various countries, which has affected the prices involved. A rise in the paper price due to short supply and restriction in imports is pushing up the cost of corrugated boxes and packaging materials, raising worries among industrialists.

Key Market Trends

The Paper Products Segment is Expected to Witness a Robust Growth

Paper products’ end-user industry uses corrugated packaging solutions in bulk material handling. The other industries use them in cases, such as in-office supplies of paper products. The use of paper for printing purposes in offices and billing in retail stores has increased adoption. It has created the demand for corrugated packaging solutions in the bulk material handling segment.
Corrugated boxes are widely employed for case quantities of these products and are also used for shipments of books, which are typically heavy and require shipping containers with adequate strength and durability. The increasing importance of electronic media may negatively impact box growth, as it reduces the sales of hard copy versions of books, newspapers, and magazines and the printing and publishing papers.
Coated solution demand in this segment is high and, therefore, creates difficulties in recycling such products. Such challenges are expected to drive the market vendors to offer recycling-friendly solutions and meet their sustainability goals. The drive for innovation is also likely to be caused by the increasing corporate customer awareness about environmental issues. The growth in the market is expected to remain higher, owing to the growing parent market.
Corrugated board is becoming increasingly popular in packaging as sustainability becomes a more relevant concern across the value chain as it’s simple to recycle, and the pulp and paper industry is already skilled at converting it into new generations of containerboard. Because of these advantages, corrugated protective forms have become more popular than polymer-based alternatives like expanded polystyrene (EPS) foams.
While board light-weighting has long impacted the corrugated sector, right weighting and rightsizing are becoming more prevalent in response to customer demand for more efficient packaging and the transportation chain’s adoption of dimensional weight (DIM) pricing. In some cases, switching to a heavier board grade has an overall positive impact since it eliminates the need for additional protective components.
While the corrugated industry is still in its infancy, it has acquired a rising desire for digital print adoption, and technologies are currently being developed to meet the demands of the high-volume liner and post-print industries. The capacity to personalize either concerning brands, regions, stores, or individuals and the level of quality now possible with the latest technology all combine to provide a "perfect storm"of growth potential for converters and printers.

The Beverage Segment is expected to Hold a prominent market Share

The consumption of beverages has been experiencing a rising trend in the region. The variety of available beverage products has exploded, with more organic products entering the market. Consumers and brand owners are becoming more environmentally aware. Concerns about sustainability, technological innovation, and appealing economics are some of the reasons for the market’s growth in liquid carton packaging during the previous two decades. Consumer perceptions and interactions with packaging are rapidly evolving. Traditional rigid packaging solutions are being replaced by new and more sustainable corrugated board packaging as vendors emphasize sustainability. Liquid packaging is predicted to become a feasible and cost-effective solution as the market need for customer-friendly products and enhanced product protection grows.
Depending on the level of protection required, the corrugated board offered in this market segment comes in different sizes and thicknesses. The end users may get the solutions that have the proper strength to weight ratio to keep beverage products safe during long-distance transport, handling, and storage.
Corrugated board packaging for beverages serves different purposes. Sometimes the packaging is used to protect heavy bottles from breaking, while sometimes freshness is the main objective. In some cases, it may be used as a barrier as a form of protection against sunlight exposure. Corrugated boxes’ cost-effective feature has driven its adoption. The price pressures are forcing the brand owners to be aware of wastages to streamline their expensive primary packaging. Secondary packaging offers a viable solution, with corrugated boxes being one of the most affordable recyclable and sustainable packaging options around. Highly skilled labor or costly tools are not required to manufacture and fill corrugated boxes, thereby making it a much easier solution to adopt for end users.
Corrugated boxes are highly customizable and may combat commoditization with secondary packaging. Many brands strategically use corrugated packaging solutions to achieve differentiation with different fluting, thickness, and design available to make the package fit for purpose. Complemented with widely customizable printing options, end users may create packages that stand out on the shelf and help grow sales.
Bottle carriers, bags in tubes, and bulk liquid containers are among some of the corrugated solutions that are offered in this market segment. The wine manufacturers, for instance, using bottle carriers, provide them with a distinct identity. Depending on their products’ exposure, packaging production facilities need to have the appropriate food safety quality certifications.
Moist products require specific packaging with the actual weight of a packaging box subjected to strict requirements. Secondary sources published study findings, which estimate that consumers make 75% of beverage purchase decisions when they stand in the aisle, facing many choices. These findings demonstrate that secondary packaging is of primary importance for driving beverage sales. Multipack solution in this segment is not just merely a necessary container for any product. Still, it is seen as an opportunity to set the brand apart at the shelf and catch the eye of that split-second shopper.
According to the United Nations’ FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and the US Department of Agriculture, global cow milk output in 2021 was around 544.07 million metric tons. The United States, which produced roughly 102.6 million metric tons of cow milk in 2020, was the second-biggest producer. This has resulted in increased use of corrugated box packaging in the North American region to transport processed milk products and cartons from the source to various destinations.

Competitive Landscape

The North America Corrugated Packaging Market is a moderately segmented market with the presence of significant players like International Paper Company, Rengo Co. Ltd, Packaging Corporation of America, Cascades Inc., etc. There is increasing competition among local vendors in the market. Owing to the wide range of corrugated boards suppliers, buyers can choose from multiple vendors. Companies are further innovating in terms of various flaps and opening types. Players such as Smurfit Kappa and Sealed air are trying to replace single-use plastics with boxes completely.

November 2021 - DS Smith launched the quickly erectable tray that is equipped with two automatic lateral bases; the stable and material-optimized packaging solution can be erected in no time, saving valuable time in logistics. It is developed with 100% recyclable construction and is made of 100% corrugated cardboard.
June 2021 - WestRock Company announced an expansion of its product packaging offerings with the launch of its EverGrow Collection. WestRock EverGrow packaging is curbside recyclable when emptied and flattened, supporting the company’s ambition to reduce waste and build a 100% reusable, recyclable, and compostable product portfolio.
March 2021 - Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) announced plans to start a three-year, USD 440 million project to permanently remodel a paper machine at its Clark County, Alabama plant to produce liner boards for corrugated boards. After a temporary switch to make linerboards, the company is now converting factory paper machines into 700,000 tons of high-performance virgin craft linerboard machines annually with a step-by-step approach over the next 36 months.

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