Author: Hrishikesh Kadam
Hrishikesh is a content writer for Global Market Insights, Inc. He writes articles across various domains like business, technology, industry, and supply chain.
Pharmaceutical applications are augmenting the consumption of blister packaging owing to benefits like easy customization, reliability, and security.
Robust demand for blister packaging, especially for pharmaceutical products, has been forecasted worldwide. Consistent adoption in consumer goods and food applications has reinforced this technology use to ensure more reliable and custom packing that suits distinct convenience and safety requirements. Blister packs can hold up for a long time and maintain the high quality of products while they await purchase.
Continuous developments in the industry are being witnessed as manufacturers invest in new technology and prioritize product enhancement. Traditionally, most blister packaging equipment used heat and pressure to form a cavity from a plastic or paper sheet. However, in recent years, improvements in thermoforming and cold forming technologies have been made, allowing steeper depth and angles during forming and reducing the amount of material used for each cavity.
Global Market Insights, Inc. is predicting the global blister packaging market size to exceed US$36.7 billion in terms of value by 2027. Superior quality of blister packs and exponential rise in their use for pharmaceutical packaging amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been identified as key reasons for such positive prospects.
The need for sustainability could boost paper and paperboard blister pack adoption
Aluminum foil, plastic substrate, or paper and paperboard are the materials of choice when designing blister packs. Environmental concerns and the need for sustainable packaging, however, could limit the use of aluminum or plastic-based products due to their poor recyclability.
Paper and paperboard solutions, on the other hand, nearly a hundred percent recyclable are gaining considerable traction in the blister packaging industry. Numerous paper packaging materials have been launched in recent years as more companies adopt new approaches to promote a circular economy.
For instance, in March last year, Alloyd Brands, a division of consumer packaging provider Sonoco, had launched EnviroSense PaperBlister, its first all-paper blister packaging for retail. The innovative solution serves as an alternative to the conventional thermoformed plastic blister packs.
The EnviroSense PaperBlister provides shoppers and brands with a plastic-free option and comes with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Certification. The solution delivers higher efficiency compared to traditional plastic blister products that require up to three times more shipping cartons, which lead to more packaging material, increased weight, and subsequently more deliveries to ship the same amount of product.
While product innovation remains a priority among manufacturers, many companies are also adopting strategies such as acquisitions and partnerships to add new products to their portfolio. American printing and packaging firm Oliver Inc. had acquired Boutwell Packaging, a blister packaging provider, in April 2020 to strengthen its position as one of the leading providers of custom paperboard packaging solutions.
The sustainability trend in packaging will only accelerate over the next few years, creating a substantial demand for paper packaging materials. In 2020, the market for paper and paperboard blister packaging generated US$3.2 billion in revenue.
Pharmaceutical applications trends augmenting blister packaging industry share
Packaging is an essential component of pharmaceutical production and marketing. As consumer needs increase and regulatory requirements evolve, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly relying on packaging to protect and promote their products.
The benefits of blister packaging are well aligned with the modern demands of the pharmaceutical sector. The packaging solution has been and will continue to be, a preferred option among pharmaceutical brands. According to estimates, pharmaceutical applications dominated the blister packaging market with over 70% volume share in 2020.
The technology witnessed substantial traction worldwide during 2020 with increased sales of multivitamin tablets and other oral supplements. Similar trends may be observed in the near future considering the sustained nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in many countries.
Packaging solution providers are constantly innovating and working and developing novel solutions designed to meet the pharmaceutical industry standards.
Constantia Flexibles had unveiled an ergonomically advanced flexible blister packaging design in January 2019 with benefits including accessibility, portability, and durability. The solution offers the same barrier protection as a traditional blister pack albeit with completely flexible films on either side.
Constantia’s Flexible Blister is suitable for oral pharmaceutical tablets, personal care pills, and dietary supplements and viable for both prescription and over-the-counter medication. The packaging solution, according to the company, can accommodate numerous specifications, shapes, and sizes, like other, more conventional blister packs.
The year 2020 also saw numerous pharmaceutical and healthcare firms investing in blister packaging production lines as part of their strategy to meet the expanding market demand.
In September, for instance, Aphena Pharma Solutions had announced a US$21 million expansion at its Cookeville, Tennessee-based facility. The new 500,000 square feet facility is specifically built for FDA manufacturing and packaging operations and will allow the company to install eight thermoform blister packaging lines and about 24 high-speed bottling lines.
Similarly, in June, Jones Healthcare Group had invested in a new, fully integrated two-lane blister packaging line by Uhlmann Group. The highly advanced and automated technology enables the company to manage demand surges and provide unique blister combinations as more complex drug dosage forms and regimes evolve commercially and clinically.
Ongoing technological advances and the future of blister packaging technology
Brands rely on packaging and labeling to build credibility and tackle challenges such as growing markets, increasing costs, and compliance regulations. The design of blister packaging is becoming more and more consumer-friendly. Products today come with informative labels that specify the exact day and week so that patients can avoid mistakes when taking medicines. Manufacturers are also investing in automated filling and sealing processes to reduce the risk of impurities.
Continuous production and transport of industrial goods will further strengthen the adoption of innovative packaging. Emerging technologies will also impact the market trends. Nanotechnology, for example, could play an essential role in taking blister packaging to the next level. It can help improve barrier protection of blister packs while addressing weight limitations. Some manufacturers are utilizing the technology to offer improved protection against moisture, oxygen, and other gases for their packaging materials.