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Key takeaways

The rigid packaging market comprises businesses involved in the production of solid packaging products made out of plastic, metal, glass or wood (excluded in this report due to the limited number of sizeable European players) for a wide range of end-markets. We segmented the European landscape by material type into: (i) plastics, (ii) metal, (iii) glass and (iv) multi-material. The type of ingredient utilised largely depends on the different characteristics and specification needed to store the packaged product. In addition, we included one material-agnostic segment of players that produce bottle caps, lids and closures.


The location of production facilities plays a significant role in the viability of packaging businesses. Due to the bulky but light product nature of rigid packaging, excessive logistics costs may quickly erode players’ slim profit margins. Geographic expansion comes with significant CAPEX in the acquisition or construction of new production facilities. Cash-rich players have a natural advantage as they can grow inorganically at a faster pace than smaller players with relatively fewer resources. That is exactly why smaller incumbents instead aim to develop an innovative edge (e.g. HPI Group spending ~10-12% of sales on R&D) to bypass this growth-driven competition. Despite the highly acquisitive strategies of large incumbents, the European landscape still has a rather fragmented nature, as international expansion remains difficult with comparable larger peers already levering an entrenched (local) presence.


Investor-led activity in European rigid packaging players has been significant, with >40% of identified players being investor-backed (August 2022). Stable product demand from multiple resilient end-markets, a fragmented competitive landscape with ample buy-and-build potential and opportunities to build winning niche propositions by front-running R&D are considered to be the most attractive factors for financial sponsors. In 2021, valuations paid for rigid packaging players averaged around ~12x EV / EBITDA.


The packaging industry faces a high degree of public scrutiny regarding resource efficiency and sustainability. Accordingly, players’ ESG focus mainly emphasises environmental factors relating to more energy-conscious production processes, closed recycling loops and adoption of more sustainable raw materials. Labour safety and product safety are the focal points in terms of social sustainability.

Company benchmarking

Market growth

The global rigid packaging market reached ~$1,015bn revenue in 2021 and is expected to register a ~4% CAGR from 2021-2026, reaching ~$1,235bn sales by 2026 (Metsa Group, July 2022)

Statista (May 2022) valued the European plastic packaging market at ~$88bn in 2021, growing to ~$113bn by 2026 at a CAGR of ~4.4%

Plastic packaging players account for the largest portion of the global rigid packaging market, covering ~37% of sales in 2021. Growth estimates for the plastic, glass and metal segments vary between ~4.0 – 5.6% CAGR, ~2.0 – 4.4% CAGR and ~3.0% CAGR from 2021-2025, respectively (Metsa Group, July 2022; Statista, August 2021; Smithers, October 2020)

Positive drivers

Increasing movements of packaged goods and advancing logistics automation boost demand for more easy-to-use rigid packaging products. Simultaneously, this will slow down the widespread transition to flexible alternatives that has characterised the industry in recent years (interviews by Gain.pro)

Superior rigid product characteristics (e.g. stability, barrier capabilities) paired with structural behavioural and value-driven consumption changes (e.g. rising sustainability awareness, more convenience & on-the-go food consumption) ensure resilient demand from key consumer industries for the years to come (e.g. food & beverage, personal care; McKinsey & Company, March 2022)

Growth potential in post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials, supported by government investments and subsidies to transition to a fully circular economy (Packaging Strategies, March 2020). Fostering closed recycling loops over banning specific materials is evidently encouraged by end-customers (interview by Gain.pro), with large conglomerates like Unilever committing to a higher share of PCR packaging

Negative drivers

Increasingly scarce availability of key raw materials across the rigid glass, metal and plastic packaging segments. This translates into severe difficulties in terms of production, with many players not being able to fully serve demand during order peaks (interview by Gain.pro)

Continuous technical and material disruption may lead to significant changes in the way rigid packaging is produced (e.g. organic sterile packaging, computer-aided design), affecting primarily single raw-material focused players that lack sufficient R&D capabilities or do not have the necessary capital to make large technology investments (Sustainable Plastics, December 2020; interview by Gain.pro)

Conscious consumerism encouraging less packaging usage is expected to further reduce per EU capita packaging waste generation (~178 kg per inhabitant in 2019), thereby significantly dampening the demand outlook for (especially rigid plastic) consumer goods packaging (Eurostat, March 2022; interview by Gain.pro)

Read the full report on Gain.pro

Rigid packaging industry.

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