How big is the packaging industry UK?

by | May 25, 2023 | Articles

The packaging industry plays a vital role in our modern consumer-driven society, ensuring that products are safely transported, stored, and presented to consumers. As economies continue to grow and consumer preferences evolve, the packaging industry has become a significant sector in many countries, including the United Kingdom. In this article, we will explore the size and growth of the packaging industry in the UK, aiming to answer the question: “How big is the packaging industry in the UK?”

The packaging industry encompasses a wide range of activities, from designing and producing packaging materials to providing packaging services for various sectors such as food and beverage, healthcare, and retail. It is an industry that is influenced by market trends, technological advancements, and changing consumer behaviors.

In 2021, the packaging market in the UK reached a substantial volume of 109.9 billion units. Looking ahead, the market is anticipated to maintain a steady growth rate with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) exceeding 1% during the forecast period. To gain insights into the size of the packaging industry in the UK, we turn to IBISWorld’s statistic, which reveals that as of 2023, the market size of the Packaging Services industry stands at £6.0 billion, representing a notable increase of 3.57% compared to the previous year. These figures highlight the industry’s significance and its ability to adapt and grow in a dynamic business environment.

Data from Internet

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the packaging services industry in the UK, exploring the factors driving its growth, the challenges it faces, and the trends that shape its future. By understanding the dynamics of this industry, we can gain valuable insights into its economic impact, technological innovations, and the opportunities it presents for businesses and consumers alike.

Let’s now embark on a journey through the fascinating world of the UK packaging industry, and discover the key factors that contribute to its size and growth.

Overview of the Packaging Services Industry in the UK:

A. Definition and scope of the packaging services industry:

The packaging services industry in the UK comprises a diverse range of activities related to packaging, including design, manufacturing, labeling, branding, and distribution. It encompasses both primary packaging (the immediate container of a product) and secondary packaging (the outer packaging that protects and contains multiple units of primary packaging).

B. IBISWorld’s statistic on the market size in 2023 (£6.0bn):

According to IBISWorld’s latest data, the market size of the Packaging Services industry in the UK is estimated to be £6.0 billion as of 2023. This figure represents a significant increase of 3.57% compared to the previous year. The growth reflects the industry’s resilience and its ability to adapt to changing market dynamics.

C. Comparison to the previous year’s market size (3.57% increase):

The 3.57% increase in the market size of the UK packaging services industry demonstrates its continuous expansion and economic importance. Despite various challenges faced by businesses in recent times, the industry has shown resilience and adaptability, driving its growth and contributing to the overall economy.

The packaging services industry in the UK has thrived due to several factors, such as the increasing demand for packaged products, the rise of e-commerce and online retail, technological advancements, and a growing focus on sustainability. These factors have created a fertile environment for the industry’s growth and have positioned it as a crucial component of the broader supply chain.

In the next section, we will explore the key drivers behind the growth of the UK packaging industry, shedding light on the factors that have propelled its expansion and allowed it to maintain a substantial market size.

Factors Driving the Growth of the UK Packaging Industry:

A. Increased consumer demand for packaged products:

The rising consumer demand for packaged products across various sectors, such as food and beverages, personal care, and pharmaceuticals, has been a significant driver of growth for the packaging industry in the UK. Packaging not only ensures the safety and preservation of products but also plays a crucial role in attracting consumers through visually appealing designs and convenient functionality.

B. Growth in e-commerce and online retail:

The rapid growth of e-commerce and online retail has presented a tremendous opportunity for the packaging industry. As more consumers turn to online shopping, there is a corresponding increase in the need for secure, protective, and aesthetically pleasing packaging solutions. The rise of omnichannel retailing, where businesses operate both online and offline, further amplifies the demand for packaging services in the UK.e-commerce and online retail

C. Technological advancements and innovations in packaging materials:

The packaging industry is continually evolving with advancements in technology and innovative packaging materials. From sustainable and biodegradable materials to smart packaging solutions, technological innovations have transformed the way products are packaged and presented to consumers. The UK packaging industry has embraced these advancements, driving growth through enhanced functionality, improved sustainability, and innovative designs.

D. Focus on sustainability and eco-friendly packaging solutions:

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental consciousness. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of packaging waste. This shift in consumer behavior has compelled the packaging industry in the UK to develop eco-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions. Companies are adopting recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable materials, as well as exploring innovative approaches like lightweight packaging and minimalist designs to reduce waste and carbon footprint.

The convergence of these factors has created a conducive environment for the growth of the packaging industry in the UK. The industry’s ability to adapt to changing consumer demands, leverage technological advancements, and embrace sustainability has been instrumental in its expansion and economic significance.

In the next section, we will discuss the challenges and opportunities that the packaging industry faces in the UK, shedding light on the factors that influence its trajectory and success.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Packaging Industry:

A. Rising raw material costs and supply chain disruptions:

The packaging industry faces challenges in managing rising raw material costs, including fluctuations in prices of materials such as plastics, metals, and paper. Supply chain disruptions, geopolitical factors, and changing trade dynamics can impact the availability and cost of these materials. To mitigate these challenges, industry players are exploring alternative materials, optimizing supply chains, and implementing efficient procurement strategies.

B. Regulatory and compliance issues:

The packaging industry operates within a framework of regulations and standards regarding safety, labeling, environmental impact, and product-specific requirements. Compliance with these regulations can pose challenges, especially when operating in multiple markets with varying regulations. Adapting to evolving regulatory landscapes requires continuous monitoring, investment in research and development, and collaboration with regulatory authorities.

C. Market competition and changing consumer preferences:

The packaging industry is highly competitive, with numerous players offering a wide range of packaging solutions. To stay ahead, companies must continuously innovate and differentiate their offerings to meet changing consumer preferences. Factors such as convenience, sustainability, and visual appeal influence consumer choices. The ability to understand and respond to these preferences is critical for maintaining a competitive edge.

D. Opportunities for growth and diversification:

Despite the challenges, the packaging industry in the UK also presents significant opportunities for growth and diversification. As consumers become more conscious of sustainable packaging, there is a growing demand for eco-friendly solutions. Companies that invest in research and development to develop innovative, sustainable packaging materials and technologies can seize these opportunities. Additionally, the rise of e-commerce and online retail opens avenues for customized and personalized packaging experiences, catering to the unique needs of online shoppers.

The packaging industry in the UK operates in a dynamic environment, facing both challenges and opportunities. By addressing challenges related to costs, regulations, and competition, and by capitalizing on opportunities for innovation and diversification, businesses can position themselves for sustained growth and success.

In the next section, we will explore the market trends and future outlook of the packaging industry in the UK, providing insights into the developments that are shaping its trajectory and potential.

Market Trends and Future Outlook:

A. Shift towards sustainable packaging solutions:

The increasing focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility has driven a significant shift towards sustainable packaging solutions in the UK. This includes the use of recyclable and biodegradable materials, as well as the adoption of circular economy principles. As consumers prioritize eco-friendly options, businesses that embrace sustainable packaging practices are likely to gain a competitive advantage and meet the evolving demands of the market.

B. Integration of smart packaging technologies:

The packaging industry is witnessing the integration of smart technologies, such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), NFC (Near Field Communication), and QR codes. These technologies enable enhanced product tracking, authentication, and interactive experiences for consumers. Smart packaging also provides valuable data and insights throughout the supply chain, facilitating inventory management, and improving efficiency.

C. Growing importance of e-commerce packaging:

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, packaging has become an integral part of the customer experience. E-commerce packaging must balance protective qualities with aesthetic appeal and eco-friendliness. Packaging that is tailored for e-commerce, including easy-open features, secure shipping, and sustainable materials, is crucial for delivering a positive brand experience and minimizing returns.e-commerce packaging

D. Forecasted market growth and emerging opportunities:

The UK packaging industry is projected to experience continued growth in the coming years. Factors such as population growth, urbanization, and evolving consumer lifestyles contribute to the demand for packaging solutions. Furthermore, emerging trends, such as personalized packaging, customization, and the incorporation of augmented reality, present exciting opportunities for industry players to innovate and create unique experiences for consumers.

As the packaging industry in the UK navigates these trends, it is essential for businesses to stay agile, adaptable, and responsive to evolving consumer expectations. By embracing sustainability, integrating smart technologies, catering to e-commerce needs, and capitalizing on emerging opportunities, the packaging industry can position itself for a prosperous future.


The packaging industry in the UK plays a vital role in meeting the demands of a dynamic consumer market. IBISWorld’s statistic of £6.0 billion for the market size of the Packaging Services industry in 2023 reflects its substantial presence and continuous growth. The industry’s expansion is driven by factors such as increased consumer demand for packaged products, the growth of e-commerce, technological advancements, and the focus on sustainability.

While the industry faces challenges such as rising raw material costs, regulatory compliance, and market competition, it also presents numerous opportunities for growth and diversification. Companies that proactively address challenges and leverage opportunities can thrive in this evolving landscape.

Looking ahead, the packaging industry in the UK is expected to witness a shift towards sustainable solutions, the integration of smart technologies, and a heightened emphasis on e-commerce packaging. These trends, coupled with forecasted market growth and emerging opportunities, create an optimistic outlook for the industry.

As businesses adapt to consumer preferences, drive innovation, and prioritize sustainability, the packaging industry will continue to evolve, ensuring the safe, efficient, and appealing packaging of products for the benefit of businesses, consumers, and the environment.


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