The global thermoformed plastics market size is expected to reach a valuation of USD 18,474.94 million by 2030 growing at a CAGR of 4.05% during the forecast period (2022–2030). Thermoformed plastic is a type of plastic manufactured by the thermoforming process. Thermoforming is a manufacturing technique that involves heating a plastic sheet to a pliable forming temperature, shaping it in a mold, and trimming it to make a useful product. The sheet is heated in an oven to a high enough temperature. It may be stretched into or onto a mold and chilled to a completed shape, referred to as "film" when referring to thinner gauges and particular material kinds. Vacuum forming is a simplified version of it.
The food, medical, and general retail industries use thin-gauge thermoforming plastic to make disposable cups, containers, lids, trays, blisters, clamshells, and other goods. Vehicle door and dash panels, refrigerator liners, utility vehicle beds, and plastic pallets are all examples of thick-gauge thermoforming plastics. The thermoformed plastics market is classified into product, process, application, and regions.
The food and beverage industry's increased demand for thermoformed plastics for improved shelf life, secure seals, and superior designs is expected to drive market growth. Food containers are used for product protection and profit maximization in grocery and convenience stores, caterers, bakeries, quick service restaurants, and food processors.
Thermoformed plastics are used in various items, including hinged plastic clamshell containers, sustainable tamper-evident designs, recyclable catering plates, and grilled packaging. Thermoformed molded packaging containers made of polypropylene and polyethylene are commonly used for food packing. Blister packages, certain tubs, and clamshells are packaged goods made with thermoformed plastics. Also, the growth of thermoformed plastics used in ready-to-eat food packaging is being driven by the increase in demand for ready-to-eat food.
Thermoformed packaging provides the cleanliness and compartmentalization needed in medical goods while securely holding products in place and protecting them from the environment. The market is anticipated to rise due to rising demand for thermoformed plastics packaging due to benefits such as little packaging waste, cost-effectiveness, and others.
Moisture management is a critical concern in medical product packaging and thermoformed plastics materials operate as a barrier film to produce high-quality packaging. Thin films, employed in various packaging applications, have been a driving force behind thermoformed packaging solutions.
Thermoformed plastics packaging materials increase the overall quality of medical items and can be modified to provide antibacterial, air-tight, and long-lasting packaging solutions. As a result, these products protect patients from infection. Also, the products are chemically resistant and transparent, making them suitable for use in hospitals, laboratories, and private residences.
Hydrocarbon fuels such as crude oil, natural gas, and coal are the most common primary sources of thermoformed plastics. North American polyethylene (PE) manufacturing is heavily reliant on natural gas, which is abundant and inexpensive in the region. As a result, PE producers in the region are fiercely competitive, maintaining a solid grip on the resins market and exporting in enormous quantities.
Future supply-demand shifts will likely cause price volatility in thermoformed plastics globally. Most basic ingredients, such as ethylene and propylene, are obtained from crude oils. These monomers are then converted into polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and other materials. These polymers are also employed in plastic forms to provide a variety of thermoformed component profiles. As a result, changes in crude oil prices significantly impact the cost of thermoformed polymers.
Supply-demand mismatches, seasonal changes, and political instability are among the factors that influence crude oil prices. In recent years, global crude oil prices have fluctuated dramatically. Social upheaval in major crude oil-producing countries, including Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, and Iraq, has harmed crude oil production, causing demand and supply irregularities. These factors have a short-term impact on the market, causing prices to drop and rise quickly.
COVID-19 had a detrimental influence on the thermoformed plastics market growth and demand, owing to a halt in manufacturing operations, restrictions on supply and transport, and infrastructure slowdown. Manufacturing sales declined 2.10% to USD 57.10 billion in April 2021, according to the Government of Canada's Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, 2021, to lower sales in 11 of 21 industries. Lower sales of transportation equipment and petroleum and coal commodities contributed significantly to the fall.
On the other hand, the rising number of COVID-19 positive cases in the region was driving demand for thermoformed plastics in the medical industry, which are used in various applications, including testing equipment, medical containers, ventilators, and more.
While crude oil is a critical component in the manufacture of plastics, with demand dwindling as the lockdowns took effect, OPEC+ agreed to a production cap on April 12th, 2020. As oil and gas production facilities were shut down, such incidents represented a global drop in thermoformed plastic output. In March 2020, the reduction in Asia-Pacific was the largest of all global regions, at 5.40%. In April 2020, India saw the most monthly production loss globally, at 15.90%.
The post-pandemic period will be crucial for the global thermoformed plastics market growth. The recovery can be hindered by manufacturing operations, which will affect the market dynamics and product prices. Furthermore, unfavorable financial conditions and ascended expenses due to production halt and quarantine restrictions may pose challenges for the global thermoformed plastics market. Also, limited production, support operations, labor shortages, and many constraints for other end-user sectors, suppliers, and vendors may fail to meet the consumer demand. Overall, the recovery will be challenging for the global thermoformed plastics market.
The global thermoformed plastics market share has been classified based on the product, process, application, and regions.
The thermoformed plastics market has been segmented into polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), bio-degradable polymers, polyethylene (PE), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high impact polystyrene (HIPS), polystyrene (PS), and polypropylene (PP) based on product. The polypropylene segment is expected to dominate the market, and it is projected to reach USD 3,937.95 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 4.15% during the forecast.
Polypropylene is extensively employed in the thermoforming of automotive components, packaging and labeling, medical devices, and various laboratory equipment due to its chemical and mechanical qualities. It has excellent mechanical strength and is resistant to multiple chemical solvents, acids, and bases. It is also one of the world's most highly formulated plastics. Thus, the demand is expected to grow over the forecast period.
Based on the process, the thermoformed plastics market share has been segmented into plug assist forming, thick gauge thermoforming, thin gauge thermoforming, and vacuum snapback. The thin gauge thermoforming segment is expected to dominate the market, and it is projected to reach USD 6,023.69 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 3.12% during the forecast.
Thin gauge thermoforming is used to make plastic products for packaging applications such as clamshell, retail, food clamshell, medical clamshell, food, and retail trifold; pick and place trays, drip trays, shipping trays, and material handling trays and covers. Increasing demand for the aforementioned thermoformed applications from industries such as medical and healthcare, food and beverage, automotive, and others is likely to drive the need for thin gauge thermoforming techniques over the forecast period.
The thermoformed plastics market share has been segmented into healthcare and medical, food packaging, electrical and electronics, automotive, construction, and consumer goods and appliances based on application. The food packaging segment is expected to dominate the market, and it is projected to reach USD 7,033.69 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 3.35% during the forecast.
Thermoformed plastics are frequently used in the food packaging industry to make trays, clamshells, and containers. Transparency and gloss are two features of thermoformed polymers. Furthermore, mounting garbage issues worldwide and customer preferences for sustainable packaging are driving manufacturers to adopt biodegradable thermoformed plastics in packaging. The growing food industry is likely to create the need for thermoformed plastics for packaging over the forecast period.
The global thermoformed plastics market share has been segregated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
With an expected market value of USD 9,560.08 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 3.95%, North America is expected to be the largest market for thermoformed plastics. The increased demand for plastics in different application categories, including food, healthcare and medical, food packaging, electrical and electronics, automotive, construction, and consumer goods and appliances, is expected to drive the thermoformed plastics market in North America. Due to significant demand from the automotive, electrical and electronics, packaging, and construction industries, North America is one of the top consumers of plastics.
The US federal government plans to invest USD 2 trillion in infrastructure improvements over ten years, beginning in 2020. The country is characterized by a low-risk environment, a stable economy, and robust financial industry. In recent years, these elements have created a plethora of investment opportunities, likely to encourage infrastructure spending in the country. This, in turn, is expected to boost demand for thermoformed plastics in the building industry in the United States.
With a market value of USD 3,196.04 million by 2030, registering a CAGR of 4.17%, Europe is expected to be the second-largest market for thermoformed plastics. The demand for thermoformed plastics is likely to be driven by an intense consumer and manufacturing scenario in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the European market is defined by several strict environmental laws imposed by regulatory authorities such as the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Commission, and other federal agencies.
As difficult as they are for growth, these regulatory rules are supposed to aid industrial development by forcing companies to improve their processes and develop sustainable technology and products.