Prices of flexible-packaging materials in Europe remain steady at high levels in Q4 2023: FPE

Although inventory-drawdowns end in Q4 2023, demand is stabilizing in 2024, says a report by Flexible Packaging Europe. The final three months of 2023 saw a mixed set of results in prices for the basket of flex-pack materials used to assess markets across Europe (above).

While there were gains in the price of HDPE resin, up 7% on the previous quarter, and LDPE resin, up 8% in the same period, other results were patchier. The continuing weakness in demand and now the volatile situation in the Middle East with the Israel-Hamas war, adding to the Ukraine war uncertainties, have had a negative impact on the outlook for 2024.

There was a modest decline in the price of 7-micron aluminum foil (4%). Elsewhere 60-gsm one-sided coated (C1S) paper fell 7% against the Q3 figures while both BOPP 20-micron film and12-micron PET film remained unchanged. A modest rise of 1% for 15-micron BOPA film completes the end-of-year figures.

 

While prices continue to drop or stabilize most are still well above the benchmark price from Q4 2020. The 60-gsm C1S paper, 15-micron BOPA film, 12-micron PET film, HDPE and LDPE generally remain between 30-40% above that benchmark, and aluminum foil remains 60% higher. Only 20-micron BOPP film is returning toward 2020 measures, at 13% above that price. However, all these prices are well off the peaks seen in mid-2022.  

FPE Executive Director Guido Aufdenkamp comments, “The combination of very high stocks along the supply chain and pressure on end-consumer demand  due to high inflation was not favorable for flexible-packaging manufacturers and caused a decline of deliveries in 2023.

"There is continuous uncertainty due to the various conflicts in and around Europe and throughout the world, but recovery of the European economy, dropping inflation in most regions and stabilization of retail-sales volumes should have a positive overall influence. The industry is cautious optimistic for 2024 when comparing the demand of flexible packaging with last year.”