High barrier films are widely used due to growing awareness about their properties. These properties include moisture barrier, gas barrier or oxygen barrier, odor barrier, and light barrier. The barrier films with thickness of more than 25µm are considered as high barrier films. The growing popularity of high barrier packaging films is helping the market increase its application among several end-use industries. Food industry is the largest end user, while the pharmaceuticals industry is the fastest growing.
Growing importance of quality packaging of pharmaceuticals is the primary factor boosting market growth. In terms of application, high barrier packaging films includes bags & pouches and blisters. Blisters are the most preferred format of packaging for pharmaceuticals due to unit dosing feature and high protection from contamination of the primary product. Bags and pouches are largely used for packaging pharmaceutical powders or bulk medication.
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Other packaging formats with high barrier films are still in the development stage and are more likely to be introduced in a few years. Among these applications, blisters lead the segment with a huge margin. The market for blisters is expected to reach a valuation of over US$ 400 Mn by the end of 2027, growing at a robust CAGR of 6.1% during the forecast period.
The growing demand for blisters is mainly contributed by the pharmaceuticals industry. Pharmaceuticals that need to be transported for long distances might be required to be stored for a longer period of time and require proper material for packaging to bear several stresses.
Thus, high quality packaging materials such as high barrier materials with multilayer structure incorporating high strength base material are in demand. Various qualities of blister packs such as unit dosing packaging format and others has led to more than half of the solid drugs and pharmaceuticals packed into blisters packs.
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Pharmaceutical products need to be protected from various environmental situations. The medication needs to be protected from UV rays, water vapour, oxygen, chemicals and harmful microbiological contamination. Typical plastic materials are generally preferred for pharmaceutical packaging due to low cost production of the packaging, but the barrier against moisture and gases is not effectively achieved. However, manufacturers have now come up with a new active packaging technology.
It helps tackle the various environmental situations affecting the quality of the medication. The most common type of active technology packaging is antimicrobials incorporation in packaging materials. This prevents harmful bacterial growth by releasing antibacterial chemicals that aid in expanding the shelf life of the product. Active packaging technology is widely used on polymer materials such as Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polyamide (PA), and Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH).
The global market may witness a growth of alternate barrier material in some regions, which may replace high barrier packaging films
EVOH is considered to hold excellent barrier properties that aid in increasing the shelf life of pharmaceutical products. Yet, vendors are attracted towards alternative material such as Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) that have moderate barrier properties and also reduce the cost of flexible packaging.
Among PE, HDPE MVTR grades are known to have enhanced moisture barrier properties than LDPE. PE and PP have poor oxygen barrier properties, but can be combined (coaxed, blended, or laminated) with other materials to provide high Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate. Similarly, saponified EVA is also in use to produce barrier films.
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