Plastic films - the key solution to growing and sustainable agriculture
AMI, Bristol, 12th October 2017 – AMI’s Consulting division just issued a new report on the global agricultural film market analysing the latest trends in the use of greenhouse film, mulch film and silage film along with developments in technology, innovation and changing film formulation. The results presented for the first time at the latest Agricultural Film conference in Barcelona in September 2017 met with great feedback from the audience.
Over the past 60 years, agricultural output and productivity have significantly increased and plastic agricultural films for silage, mulch and greenhouse applications have made substantial contributions to this development. In times of growing population, expanding urbanisation and shrinking arable land due to industrialisation and soil erosion, any development increasing the output from the available land is welcome and embraced. The use of plastic films has been notable in the horticultural industry, as well as in preserving and improving the quality of silage and contributing to continuously increasing crop and milk yields. Protective mulch and greenhouse films have also enabled to extend the cultivation in terms of the growing season and the location, helping growers in the harsh climatic conditions of cold as well as hot weather or water scarcity.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development formulated during the 2015 United Nations Summit, has made a commitment, among others, to eradicate global poverty within the next 15-year period and to become, for the first time in the human history, a zero-hunger generation. For this to be achieved it is crucial to employ the latest technologies so that the efficiency of the global food supply chain is optimized, resulting in the maximum of food produced per drop of water, hectare of land and gram of agrochemicals used, while protecting crops to reduce food waste, adapting to climate change and assuring the chain's sustainability in the long term. This will enable the continued growth of plastic films used in agriculture, which has been experiencing already healthy growth over the last 10 years.
Chart1: Global agricultural film by application
The three types of agricultural films, mulch film, greenhouse film and silage film, represent a major segment of polyethylene usage globally, valued at over 8 billion dollars. The total demand for these films accounted for some 6 million tonnes in 2016 with greenhouse film representing nearly half of it, followed by mulch film with nearly a third and just over 20% held by silage film. The market for greenhouse film is expected to advance at the same pace of growth as mulch film, at just over 8% per annum over the next five years, while the demand for silage film is forecast to grow at a moderate rate of just under 4%.
Around 70% of global demand and production of agricultural films is concentrated in Asia, mainly in China, where the growth rate continues to reach double digits. This growth is driven by increasing specialisation of the Chinese market which will impact growing exports of more sophisticated films inside and outside of Asia. Another contributing factor is upgauging of previously very thin films intended mainly for the local market, which are now required by the Chinese regulations to be thicker and stronger.
Chart2: Global agricultural film by region
The markets in Europe and North America have now matured, although Mexico, as well as some countries in Eastern Europe are still experiencing healthy growth in consumption of plastic films for agriculture. Another region with continued stellar growth is South and Central America, mainly due to its consumption and exports of silo bags which have become particularly popular in this region. Due to more challenging climatic conditions, the demand in the Middle East and Africa will see steady growth at about 5-6% a year over the next five years. Both these regions currently consume less than 4% of agricultural films produced globally.
Plastic films undoubtedly offer solutions concerning the global food supply and they will hold an even more significant role as government funds are released to encourage agriculture in the developing regions. While agricultural films contribute to improved efficiency and output, growing concern about film waste and disposal is leading to growing interest in the use of biodegradable materials or utilising advanced technologies which enable recycling of those heavily contaminated films where it is economically and environmentally feasible.
Agricultural films - Global market 2017 is a new detailed market report from AMI Consulting, published in September 2017. For further information please contact Marta Kedziora, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +44 (0)117 314 8164.
In addition to its consultancy work, AMI organises the annual global conference for the agricultural films sector: Agricultural Film 2018 (17-19th September 2018, Madrid, Spain, contact Sophie Harrisson, email@example.com, +44 (0)117 314 8158).