Top ten packaging companies to watch in 2023
Inside Packaging investigates how the packaging industry landscape has changed since the start of the pandemic and reveals the top packaging companies to watch in 2023.
Most of the world moved beyond the pandemic in 2022 and instead new global issues such as inflated prices and the war in Ukraine affected the revenue streams of many packaging organisations. As we enter 2023 sustainability and digitalisation remain high-ranking themes for the packaging sector to navigate if businesses wish to see profits, but who are the top ten companies to watch this year?
Inside Packaging has used GlobalData’s Packaging Intelligence Centre data to uncover the top ten packaging companies to look out for in 2023 based on company activities during 2021 and 2022.
Top ten packaging companies of 2022 (US$)
Westrock Co – $21.3bn
(+1 from 2020 ranking)
As the European date on tethered caps looms, the packaging industry has seen several announcements from companies declaring a move towards tethered caps. For example, both German dairy company, Landliebe Molkereiprodukte, and Polish food company, Maspex Wadowice Group, have introduced versions of the tethered cap design by packaging solutions provider, SIG, on their products.
Meanwhile, plastic closures specialist, Bericap, which has developed and produced closures since 1987, says it has impressed the market with its latest tethered closure design. The German company claims to have a closure solution for virtually any container bought to market thanks to its Bericap ClipAside tethered cap.
In May 2022, a commissioned Bericap consumer survey revealed the ClipAside cap offers many benefits to users aside from its recycling advantages.The survey said consumers were impressed with the cap's convenience, hygiene, sustainability and robustness for daily use.
More recently (January 2023), packaging solutions company Berry Global announced a partnership with Coca-Cola to supply the global drinks company with tethered lids for its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles in the EU.
According to Berry Global, PET bottles are the most recycled packaging type and so far it has applied over 400 million tethered lids on Coca-cola bottling lines across the drinks company’s bottling lines in Germany, Spain and the UK, with plans to expand this to other Coca-Cola plants in Europe.
A Berry Global spokesperson told Inside Packaging that in 2019 Coca-Cola held a supplier event to provide a brief on the project and Berry was shortlisted as a supplier in 2020. Berry stated the production process was essentially the same although the filling line needed fine-tuning.
Coca-Cola’s main soft drinks competitor, multinational drinks giant Pepsico, is also moving towards using tethered closures on all its plastic drink bottles. In an exclusive discussion with Inside Packaging, Pepsico said it is currently preparing the conversion to tethered closures in all European markets, a project it started three years ago to respect the regulatory requirements.
European sustainability senior director at Pepsico, Mark Allen told Inside Packaging exclusively: “a complete renewal of plant equipment was not needed. However, an adaptation of some equipment may be required according to preliminary audits that have been conducted line by line. In some markets, the decision was made to change the bottleneck finish to reduce plastic use.
“In the first stage, we focused on identifying the best closure designs, keeping in mind the EU guidelines whilst delivering a positive consumer experience. The next step was identifying the right suppliers, considering their closure developments and compatibility with our bottle designs and bottling lines. Currently, we are in the qualification and execution stage, targeting to have all lines across the system adapted by early 2024, before the deadline of July 2024,” he continued.
International Paper Co – $19.4bn
(-1 from 2020 ranking)
Having previously held the top spot, International Paper Co dropped down to second position having posted a 10.2% increase in sales for the fiscal year ending December 2021(FY2021). The producer of renewable fibre-based packaging and pulp products, which has a market capitalisation of $16.85bn, posted sales of $19.36bn for the year.
The first half of the year was the most profitable as the company recorded net sale profits of $10.98bn ($5.36bn in the first quarter and $5.61bn in the second quarter) coinciding with the easing up of worldwide lockdowns. International Paper Company which operates three business segments – industrial packaging, global cellulose fibres and printing papers – recorded most of its net sale profits through industrial packaging ($16.3bn).
In 2021, the packaging company managed to complete the acquisition of two corrugated packaging businesses Cartonatges Trilla SA and La Gaviota, S.L, moulded fibre packaging company Berkley MF and two corrugated packaging plants in Spain.
2023 will see the completion of a new corrugated packaging plant in Atglen, Pennsylvania to meet its growing customer demand in the region.
Tetra Laval International SA – $16.3bn
Tetra Laval International accumulated a total net sale income of $14.48bn for FY2020, according to GlobalData. This figure was a decrease of 6% on the $15.42bn earned in 2019.
The Switzerland-based company, a provider of comprehensive solutions for processing and packaging earned its net sale profits through the trading of its three business groups Tetra Pak, Sidel and DeLaval. FY2020 saw revenues of $1.22bn for DeLaval and $1.44bn for Sidel, whilst flagship brand Tetra Pak brought in most of its revenue ($11.94bn).
In a bid to continue driving profits and boosting sustainability efforts, in June 2021 Tetra Pak invested US$110.5m to expand its factory in Châteaubriant, France. This followed its introduction of certified recycled polymers and it became the first company in the food and beverage packaging industry to be awarded the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) Advanced Products certification.
Industry experts say there is a direct correlation between increased profits and companies with proactive environmental practices. In December 2021, Tetra Pak was recognised as a leader in corporate sustainability having been the only company in the carton packaging sector to be included in the non-governmental transparency organisation CDP’s leadership band for six years running.
Amcor Plc – $14.54bn
Packaging solutions provider Amcor Plc recorded sales increases of 3.2% for the fiscal year ending June 2021. Amcor which has a market value of $17.33bn posted total sales revenues of $12.86bn for FY2021.
It has experienced year-on-year revenue growth from FY2017, seeing its biggest growth in FY2020 where there was an increase of $3.01bn over FY2019. The end of FY2021 saw its full-year net income also increase by 53% (from $327m to $939m), whilst the net profit margin sat at 7.3%.
Amcor was able to maintain its year-on-year growth from FY2018 during the pandemic. The UK headquartered company made notable moves within the sector throughout FY2021. In April 2021, it invested almost $15m in US-based packaging firm ePac Flexible Packaging and US-based management consulting firm McKinsey & Company (McKinsey) to develop recycling and waste management solutions for use in Latin America.
2022 saw Amcor invest nearly $100m to open an advanced manufacturing plant in Huizhou, China. The plant will provide jobs to over 550 employees and improve productivity in the area, producing flexible packaging for food and personal care products.
In a bid to further increase profits and provide sustainable packaging options, Amcor also developed AmFiber, a sustainable alternative to plastic.
Berry Global Group Inc – $14.5bn
Berry Global, a specialist manufacturer in plastic consumer packaging announced an increase of 18.3% for the fiscal year ended October 2021 (FY2021). The packaging company which has a market value of $8.04bn announced total revenues of $13.85bn for the fiscal year.
Headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, US, Berry Global has managed to more than double its total annual revenue from FY2016 ($6.49bn), maintaining a steady year-on-year increase throughout. Moves such as the introduction of a new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) spirit bottle designed for the e-commerce market have helped the packaging specialist increase its revenue.
The plastic company reported a 22% growth in net sales for the fourth quarter (Q4) of FY2021 compared to the same period of FY2020. The company’s consumer packaging sales for the quarter grew by 12%, driven by increased selling prices of $109m due to inflation.
Through innovation, partnerships and addressing sustainability concerns Berry Global looks set to build on its financial achievements in 2023. It has also partnered with brands such as personal care brand Ingreendients, US food company Mars and US-based food company McCormick to produce packaging from recycled contents for their various products.
Ball Corporation – $13.8bn
(+1 from 2020 ranking)
The fiscal year ending December 2021 (FY2021) saw Ball Corporation (Ball Corp) report a 17% increase in revenue. The metal package solutions provider which has a market value of $30.06bn recorded total revenues of $13.81bn.
Since 2017 it has experienced a steady upwards yearly revenue growth except for 2019 where total revenue dropped by $161m. Its net income has also seen year-on-year growth recording an all-time high of $8.78m in 2021. Its net profit margins for FY2021 was 6.4%, an increase of 28% growth on FY2020.
Ball Corp was able to strengthen its foothold in the metal packaging industry during 2021 through investments, expansion and innovation. For instance, May 2021 saw Ball Corp re-enter the B2C market with a US-wide retail rollout of the ‘Ball Aluminium Cup’.
In 2022, the metal packaging company continued to make headway with its aim of building a sustainable future through moves such as expanding its partnership with events specialists Sodexo Live! The partnership aims to help lower the environmental impact at landmark venues across Canada and North America through the use of its Ball Aluminum Cups.
Oji Holdings Corp – $13.1bn
(-2 from 2020 ranking)
Paper manufacturing firm Oji Holdings Corp (Oji Holdings) suffered its second loss in two years as it recorded a 9.86% decrease in total sales revenue for the fiscal year ending March 2021 (FY2021). The Japanese-based company with operations across Asia, Australasia and the Americas has a market value of $5.15bn and reported revenues of $12.82bn for FY2021.
The company which operates under four business segments saw most of its profits take place within household and industrial materials ($5.47bn), a decrease of 5.6% from the previous year. Its forest resources and environment marketing brought in a revenue of $2.07bn whilst printing and communications media sales earned $2.06bn and functional materials had a profit of $1.54bn.
Like most businesses, Oji Holdings was impacted by the pandemic. In saying this, there were some profitable ventures such as Nestlé using the Oji Group’s paper for the wrapper of its popular KitKat chocolate bar in Japan, which assisted its revenue stream. The Japanese company also established a new corrugated container plant in the southern province of Dong Nai, Vietnam.
October 2022 saw the paper manufacturer announce a partnership with Japanese food company Bourbon Corporation where paper packaging was the chosen material for its premium cookie ‘Luxary Lumonde’. The company also announced the launch of its ‘CellArray’ product, a nanostructured cell culture substrate for use in regenerative medicine and drug discovery.
Stora Enso Oyj – $12bn
(+2 from 2020 ranking)
Finland-based paper and packaging company Stora Enso had an 18.8% increase in total revenue for the fiscal year ending December 2021. The producer of paper products and biomaterials has a market value of $15.35bn and reported total revenues of $12.02bn for FY2021. The company’s sales for Q3 FY2021 totalled $2.9bn, representing a 23.9% increase from the same period of FY2020.
Stora Enso operates in six segments, including packaging solutions ($25m), wood products ($399m) and biomaterials ($557m). The three most profitable operating segments last year were packaging materials ($607m) and forest ($684m) however its paper segment took a loss of $465m.
The Finnish company is one of the world’s largest private forest owners, owning or leasing land covering a total area of 2.01 million hectares, according to GlobalData. Investment in innovation and sustainability is key this year and 2021 saw Stora Enso invest $70.23m in future growth.
Bidding to step into the future through innovation, December 2022 saw Stora Enso announce the opening of a new lignin granulation and packing plant at the company’s Sunila biomaterials production unit in Finland. The use of lignin in granulated form will further support the development work of Stora Enso’s hard carbon bio-based battery material Lignode, which is made from lignin.
Plus, the Finnish packaging company announced a partnership with refillable grocery provider Dizzie in October 2022 to provide consumers with packaging made from biocomposites to help reduce packaging waste.
Smurfit Kappa Group Plc – $11.95bn
(-1 from 2020 ranking)
Smurfit Kappa Group Plc (Smurfit Kappa), providers of paper packaging solutions recorded total sales revenue increases of 18.49% for the fiscal year ending December 2021. The Ireland-headquartered company which has a market value of $12.18bn announced total sales revenues of $11.09bn for FY2021.
The company, which operates paper mills, recovered fibre facilities and converting plants in Europe and the Americas invested throughout 2021. It ploughed its finances into several investments including four major ones across the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a $13.2m investment in a Spanish flexible packaging plant and a $28.7m expansion of its corrugated plant in France.
“This investment will allow us to grow further and improve our quality of service to the food and industrial markets that we serve,” said Smurfit Kappa Europe corrugated and converting chief operating officer Edwin Goffard at the time.
2022 saw the Ireland headquartered business announce a EUR7m investment at Smurfit Kappa LithoPac plant in Nybro, Sweden in May and then in November, it completed a EUR20m investment in its Central and Eastern European operations.
UPM-Kymmene Corp – $11.6bn
Finnish developer of thinner and lighter materials UPM-Kymmene Corp (UPM-Kymmene) posted a 14.4% increase in revenue for the fiscal year ending December 2021. The company which serves various industries has a market value of $18.19bn and recorded total revenue sales of $11.61bn.
The company which manufactures and supplies a range of renewable and recyclable wood-related products had a sales decrease of 2% to $2.46m in Q1 of FY2021, compared to the $2.52m recorded in Q2 of FY2020. Although it suffered a slight dip in revenue due to higher prices of pulp and energy, sales in Q3 FY2021 increased by 24% to $3.06m compared to $2.23m in Q3 FY2020.
Its subsidiary companies UPM Raflatac (labels) and UPM Specialty Papers both operate in the packaging value chain and have a total revenue of $3.4bn. Combined with UPM-Kymmene’s other subsidiary companies, FY2021 saw it finish with its second-highest net income in five years ($1.52bn).
Main image credit: FellowNeko / Shutterstock.com