Abhinav Kumar Singh



Vikram Sharma




The Indian packaging industry, valued at approximately USD 75 billion in FY20, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 18-20% and reach nearly USD 200 billion by FY25. This growth is driven by the retail market, which is the 5th largest sector in India’s economy and has shown steady growth with high potential for expansion, particularly in exports.

Packaging plays a crucial role in determining a product’s perceived value. However, with the wide variety of packaging and box options available, choosing the most suitable solution can be challenging. Packaging can generally be divided into two main categories: Rigid Packaging and Flexible Packaging.

Rigid Plastic Packaging

Rigid plastic, which includes products and packaging made from plastic resin, is predominantly used for molded items such as food containers, tubes, cups, bottles, pots, cans, and closures. This type of packaging is rapidly replacing traditional materials like metal cans, glass bottles, aluminum tubes, and metal caps in various applications. The primary materials used in rigid plastics are PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), PP (Polypropylene), and HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene).

The growth of this category is driven by factors such as demand for lower-cost packaging, technological innovation and development, a shift towards packaged products by middle-class consumers, modern retail formats that emphasize product presentation, and a growing desire for higher-quality products. Rigid packaging offers the best alternative for recyclability and reusability compared to flexible, glass, or metal packaging.

In India, the rigid plastic packaging sector is dominated by companies such as Essel Propack (a global leader in laminated tubes) and Pearl Polymers. Moldtek introduced In-moldlabeling technology to India, which is particularly suitable for the Food, Beverage, and FMCG segments.

The market for rigid plastic packaging in India has grown significantly in recent years and is expected to continue growing at a CAGR of around 10-12% by FY24. The Northern region is the largest market for rigid plastic packaging, accounting for 35% of the market share, followed by the West with 32%.

Flexible packaging

Flexible packaging, made of easily moldable materials, is a rapidly growing segment of the packaging industry. It utilizes materials such as paper, plastic film, foil, and metallized or coated papers to preserve product freshness and extend shelf life. Compared to rigid plastic packaging, it is lighter, takes up less space, and is easier to dispose of. The market for flexible packaging is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15-18% by FY25, with plastics dominating due to their moisture-resistant properties. Flexible packaging has various applications in the food and non-food industries, including ready-to-eat foods, boil-in-bag pouches, insulation, cosmetics, and healthcare. India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing flexible packaging markets, with growth driven by factors such as population growth, urbanization, improved quality of life, environmental awareness, and consumerism.

The Plastic Film & Flexible packaging Industry in India shows a Y-o-Y growth of 15.3% in Capacity of Exports from 6,08,341Tonnes in FY21 to 7,01,250 Tonnes in FY22.

The maximum import of Plastic Film & Flexible Packaging for FY22 was done from China with 43.5% followed by HongKong with 8.2% ahead of USA with 6.6% in terms of capacity.

India is one of the world’s biggest and fastest growing flexible packaging markets. The growth is expected to be driven bypopulation growth, urbanization, improved quality of life, increasing environmental awareness and increasing consumerism.

Corrugated boxes

Corrugated boxes, commonly known as cardboard, are used for shipping, storage, and shoe boxes. They are made of three layers of paper: an outside liner, an inside liner, and a corrugated medium that provides strength and rigidity. The main raw material used to make corrugated board is recycled paper. Corrugated boards come in different types, including single-faced, double-faced, twin-wall, and triple-wall, and can be used to make packaging with varying characteristics and strength. They are also used for retail packaging, pizza delivery boxes, and small consumer goods packages. In FY22, 17.5% of total paper production was used for corrugated sheet boxes and 6.9% for paper carton boxes.

Glass Packaging

In India, the primary force behind the use of glass packaging continues to be the soft drinks and alcoholic beverages industry. While pharmaceutical applications of glass are declining as they shift towards rigid plastics, alcoholic drink manufacturers still prefer glass due to its premium image and superior barrier properties compared to plastics. Despite attempts to introduce rigid plastic and paper brick packaging for wines and beer, consumers have shown limited adoption of these alternatives. Returnable bottles are mainly used for soft drinks, experiencing steady growth in demand, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas. However, alcoholic drinks, like wine, beer, and spirits, may face slower growth due to higher state taxes in the short term, but the long-term upward trend is expected to remain strong, maintaining current growth levels for glass packaging. The Indian glass packaging market is highly fragmented, with numerous localized players. Among them, Hindustan National Glass & Industries and Piramal Glass stand out as integrated large players with a nationwide presence.

In the FY22, the Glass industry is estimated to have grown by approximately 12%, driven by increased demand from end-users like Real Estate, Packaging, Automobiles, and Telecom.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Apart from the food and beverage sector, pharmaceuticals are a significant consumer of packaging materials. The Indian pharmaceutical industry (IPI) holds the third position worldwide in terms of volume and the 13th position in terms of value. The lower market share in terms of value is attributed to the industry's focus on generic medicines, which account for about 70% of its revenues, leading to comparatively lower prices. In the fiscal year 2022, the industry's size is estimated to be around USD 47-48 billion, with both the domestic and export segments contributing equally to the industry's revenues.

From FY18 to FY22, the Indian pharma industry has shown a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.7%, with its value increasing from approximately USD 35.4 billion to about USD 47.6 billion. This growth has been driven by expansions in both the export and domestic markets.

The domestic pharmaceutical industry in India consists of a network of 3,000 drug companies and nearly 14,000 manufacturing units. Over the years, the domestic market has grown at a CAGR of 6.2%, reaching USD 23.0 billion in FY22 from USD 18.1 billion in FY18. Meanwhile, pharma exports from India witnessed a faster CAGR of 9.2%, rising from USD 17.3 billion in FY18 to USD 24.6 billion in FY22.

Projections indicate that the domestic pharmaceutical market in India is expected to reach USD 65 billion by CY24 and further expand to nearly USD 120 to 130 billion by CY30. This growth can be attributed to factors such as an increase in chronic diseases, rising per capita income, improved access to healthcare facilities, and greater penetration of health insurance.

The domestic pharma market in India can be broadly categorized into acute therapies (e.g., anti-infectives, pain/analgesics) and chronic therapies (e.g., cardiac, gastrointestinal, anti-diabetic). In terms of market share by revenue, anti-infectives hold the largest share at 13.6%, followed by cardiac and gastrointestinal therapies with shares of 12.4% and 11.5%, respectively.

E-commerce Industry

India’s e-commerce market is projected to grow rapidly, becoming the world’s fastest-growing, due to strong investment and an increasing number of internet users. The majority of e-commerce retail sales are in consumer electronics and apparel, followed by food and grocery, jewellery, furniture, and other items. The sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19% from FY20 to FY25, driven by an increase in mobile users, internet connections, grocery sales, and fashion/apparel sales. By FY25, the number of online shoppers in India is expected to reach 220 million, with online retail market penetration increasing from 4.7% in FY19 to 10.7% by FY24. The Indian government aims to create a billion-dollar online economy by 2025 through its Digital India Campaign.