March 1999 Issue


Carton Converters Awash in Optimism

Continued economic strength, new end-use market opportunities and better production strategies all paint a bright picture for this once over-shadowed segment. By David Luttenberger By most accounts, the U.S. folding carton industry had a banner year in 1998. According to Gary Stanley of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC), segment records were set for both quantity and value of product shipments. DoC figures estimate the value of shipments at $9.7 billion. That's a 3.5 percent increase over '97. Much of the good news for the paperboard carton segment can be directly attributed to the strength of the national economy and a better-than-expected export climate.

For Flexibles, Stable Doesn't Mean Stagnant

Flexible packagers must stay alert to hints of change, even in the face of repetitive annual growth rates. By Susan Friedman The numbers make it tempting, but flexible packaging converters can't afford to be lulled into a sense of predictability. By Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) estimates, the industry grew at a rate of 3.7 percent in 1998, to a shipment level of $17.5 billion—a rate almost dead even with 1997's 3.5 percent annual growth. The same 3.7 percent growth rate emerges in FPA's forecast for 1999—with familiar rainmakers like multi-web rollstocks, rigid to flexible conversions and stand-up pouches still firmly in place. However, if

Polypropylene Pop Quiz

Suppliers respond to pP's readers' challenges and questions regarding polypropylene substrates. By Susan Friedman You asked, and polypropylene film material suppliers responded. After conducting a phone survey to collect pP readers' most-encountered challenges with this popular substrate, related questions were forwarded to suppliers for comment. Read on for their suggestions. Available Grades Q: Converters have expressed difficulty finding polypropylene below 60 gauge. Does 60 gauge meet most application needs, or will thinner gauges need to become more accessible in the coming year? A: Though 50 gauge films are available from a number of suppliers, including Mobil, most BOPP manufacturing and converting processes have better

Targeting Opportunities

By exploiting niche markets, non-core competencies and more efficient manufacturing methods and technologies label printers can sustain, and even grow, profits. By David Luttenberger Tag and label printers have arguably enjoyed success and profits unequaled by converters in any other segment during the past 10 years. But the days of expected and sustained double-digit growth are waning as the millennium approaches. There are, however, as many, if not more, opportunities in this highly versatile segment for tag and label printers to capitalize on developing technologies, manufacturing processes and end-use market trends in order to sustain or even grow profits. "The impetus has to be