Region/Countries: Asia, South Korea Industry: Manufacturing, Other Date: March 2016

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The industry is growing at double the world average.

South Korea’s packaging industry has been growing significantly, and is expected to grow further based on advanced technologies and materials. Compared to the sales of global packaging market, which is forecast to reach $82 billion by 2016 and has a 3 percent growth rate, the South Korean packaging market is growing at double the pace. The size of South Korea’s packaging machine industry reached $742 million in 2013 from $675 million in 2012, which is a 10 percent year-over-year increase. With this growth, a packaging market that used to be regarded as supplier-oriented is transforming into a consumer-oriented market, and a range of delicate new packaging types addressing consumer safety, convenience and environmental concerns have been introduced to the market.

Particularly in the food packaging industry, interests in developing safe and convenient packages have been increasing. For instance, Sajo Haepyo, one of leading processed food manufacturers, introduced an aluminum foil cover for a canned tuna, as the can’s conventional steel cover had brought about quite a number of safety problems. According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the number of patent applications for food safety packaging technology was 134 from 2000 to 2004 and increased to 258 from 2010 to 2014, a 10 percent average annual increase. Also, environmentally friendly features have received increased attention from the industry, and companies have started to develop packaging materials such as a container made with maize starch and take-out boxes made with soybean oil. However, the problem is that diversity of the packaging materials in South Korea is very limited. South Korea depends on imports for most core packaging materials, and the volume of imports is expected to increase further with rising demand.

Packaging needs are growing not just in the food industry, but in a wide range of industries including cosmetics, health care and other consumer goods. This trend is reflected in the number of visitors and exhibitors at KOREA PACK, the largest packaging exhibition in South Korea, which has been held annually since 1992. In 2015, more than 1,500 companies from 25 countries with 4,500 booths exhibited packaging machinery, packaging materials and containers, package printing machines, packaging inspection equipment, packaging processing machinery and equipment, package design services, food processing machinery and logistic systems and equipment, and over 50,000 visitors participated in the event.

As the importance of South Korea’s packaging market and investment in the industry increases, it presents opportunities for Wisconsin companies manufacturing packaging materials and related machinery.