Out of various kinds of printing inks, flexible packaging inks are gaining importance year after year due to their higher growth potential in India, particularly in the food (including snacks, confectionery, beverages, and dairy products etc.) and related segments such as pharmaceutical and hygiene segments.
As per our own experience, the printing ink market volume is growing around 8 to 12% per annum depending on various kinds of applications.
The current total flexible packaging ink production volume in India can be estimated to a figure of around 140000 Metric Tons per annum. Out of which, a majority of volume such as 70% is based on low cost toluene based on PVC/EVA (vinyl chloride-Vinyl acetate-vinyl alcohol/Ethylene vinyl Acetate type polymer) and toluene based Nitrocellulose based ink formulations for both plastic and paper substrates. Chewing tobacco packaged in paper/aluminum laminates is one of the major packaging applications (by Gravure printing process) in this low cost segment.
The other important printing ink segments are toluene based PVC/Polyurethane inks and nitrocellulose based wrap-around label inks. Both consist of around 8 – 12% of the total ink consumptions per annum. The nitrocellulose based foil inks consumption is nearly 5-7%.
Further, low volume ink types including non-toluene PVC/PU inks, inks for shrink film application, PP extrusion inks and CI Flexographic inks will be somewhere between 1-3% of the total flexible ink consumption per annum. It is important to note here that the European and US market predominantly use flexographic inks but majority of Asian flexible packaging market including Indian market use gravure inks.
In terms of various market segments, the ink share of food industry is 40% followed by personal care (35%), Health care (15%), hygiene (5%) and pharmaceutical (5%).
Considering various types of printers/converters, around 20% ink share is with organized sector, 25% is in semi-organized sector, 15% of total ink share per annum is with small converters and remaining share are with unorganized sectors.
As the packaging and printing ink regulation is expected to be stringent in the upcoming years followed by growing product safety awareness among the converters and consumers, a substantial shift from low cost toluene based inks market to regulatory compliance aromatic solvent free inks would be flexible packaging the market focus of the near future.