Packaging industry in Türkiye

MachinesTechnical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 1/2021 • 29.03.2021

The packaging sector in Turkey is a well-developed industry, which follows the global trends in the field and over the last few years has seen an increase in terms of innovations and environment friendly production. Furthermore, new packaging formats are improved in accordance to the quality, size and appeal of products.

Drivers of the Turkish packaging industry, leading to higher demand for packaging products, include growth in population and standard of living, rapid urbanization, diversification of consumer goods and increase in exports. The sector has shown rapid growth over the past 10 years while reflecting changing shopping habits, particularly in large cities, due to the presence of department stores and super- and hypermarkets. Other factors contributing to the expansion of the Turkish packaging sector are increased advertisement of consumer products, attractive point-of-purchase packaging and the boom in sales of canned and frozen food, apparel, and disposable medical supplies, which all require special packaging.

Following the world trends, packaging consumption in Turkey has grown significantly. With the expansion of the retail market sales of packaged products to the final consumer have registered an increase, which lead to intensive research on packaging forms and more rational packaging. According to a report by the Turkish Ministry of Trade, over the last five years the average annual growth rate of the packaging industry in the country has been 6%, and it is expected to remain the same in the coming years. The document states that annual packaging products consumption is about 5,5 million tons with a share of 39% for paper, carton and corrugated board packaging, 33% for plastic packaging, 13% for glass packaging, 8% for wood packaging and 7% for metal packaging. All types of packaging materials and products such as paper, cardboard, wrapping film, tape, plastics, glass, metal and wood are being manufactured in Turkey. New technologies are being used to process the main materials in order to allow the utilization of packaging according to the product’s physical and chemical properties. Therefore, materials have become more flexible in terms of protection capabilities and shelf life.


Market profile

The Ministry of Trade’s report shows that in Turkey there are about 3000 companies manufacturing various packaging materials. Most of those are medium and small sized enterprises, but there are also a few larger players. Fifty three packaging manufacturers are among the largest 1000 companies in Turkey. Most of the companies in the sector are located in Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Ankara, Konya, Kocaeli, Gaziantep, Adana, Kayseri and Manisa and they demonstrate excellent performance in terms of quality and production capacity.

The total annual production of the Turkish plastic packaging industry amounts to 1,8 million tons. The country’s polypropylene woven bags and sacks sector has an important production and export capacity. Ten large sized companies producing big bags are organized under the Turkish Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers Association.

Environmental concerns over the impact of plastics have lead to increased demand for paper, carton and corrugated board products, thus becoming one of the leading sectors of the packaging industry with total annual production of 2,1 million tons. Metal packaging products made of aluminium, tin, and iron sheets are supplied to the market in different forms. The production capacity for steel packaging (vegetable oil, pickle, mineral oil, paint and other chemicals drums and boxes, boxes for food, beverages, aerosols and beverage lids, glass jar lids) and aluminium packaging (covers all kinds of food and non-food aluminium boxes) has reached 600 000 tons. The annual production amounts to about 388 000 tons.

The glass industry is very well-developed in Turkey with a group of companies dominating the domestic market. Turkiye Sise ve Cam Fabrikalari accounts for approximately 95% of Turkey’s total annual production of glass and ranks 12th amongst the top 25 firms in the world. The Group consists of 26 companies which produce almost every kind of glass product, and Anadolu Cam which manufactures glass packaging. Turkey has a glass production capacity of 2,2 million tons in total. Approximately one third of this capacity, which is about 750 000 tons, is for glass packaging products. Anadolu Cam exports glass containers as well as packaging production technologies.

The wooden packaging sector manufactures mainly products for storing agricultural products such as fresh fruits and vegetables, standard and non-standard pallets used in warehouse stacking and logistics, demountable transportation boxes and containers. Turkey’s total capacity is estimated at 600 000 tons/year and the production of various wooden packaging materials is about 440 000 tons/year. Products comply with the recent International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15).

Data from the Turkish Ministry of Trade shows that the packaging sector has also reached world standards in terms of quality with the number of firms which have ISO 9000, ISO 14001 and ISO 22000 certificates rising rapidly. Furthermore, Turkish packaging manufacturers closely follow recent international and national developments in regards to environmental issues and comply with environmental legislation and regulations. All types of packaging wastes, including those imported and/or produced in Turkey, are controlled under the Packaging and Packaging Waste Management Legislation. There are also legislative preparations for the control of food packaging production and articles in direct contact with food materials aimed at reaching compliance with European Union regulations. The R&D and new product development activities in the sector have gained more importance in order to achieve competitiveness worldwide.

Turkey has registered an increasing trend for packaging products exports – while in 1990 the value of exports was USD 50 million, in 2015 it reached almost USD 3,7 billion. This remarkably high growth in export value has undoubtedly been achieved thanks to recent modernization and technological improvements in the sector. The largest packaging group exported in 2015 was plastic packaging products with a share of 59,4% in total exports in the packaging industry. The total export value of these packaging products reached USD 2,2 billion in 2015.


Plastics packaging materials industry

Thanks to innovative processing technologies plastics have become increasingly sophisticated, lightweight and versatile, replacing traditional packaging materials such as glass and paper in many areas. The rapid growth in the use of plastic in packaging has begun with the development of polystyrene, polypropylene, PVC, polyester and polyethylene copolymers.

A report by the Turkish Plastics Industry Foundation PAGEV states that despite the size and economic importance of the sector, plastic packaging manufacturers are under considerable pressure. On one hand, raw material suppliers determine the prices of plastics especially the food industry, and great pressure is applied by the customers to lower the prices. In addition, it is known that in many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, the manufacturers have the possibility of quality extrusion and printing at lower costs and therefore the competition is rapidly increasing in these countries. On the other hand, competition from the Far East is also increasing, especially in the field of barrier materials and printing technology.

It is estimated that food packaging, which constitutes 55% of the total market in terms of product areas and which is the biggest area of the whole packaging industry, will be the most important growth market for plastic packaging. Demographic developments such as the increase in the number of homes and elderly people contribute to the growth of the market.

According to the PAGEV database, about 1450 companies are operating in the Turkish plastics packaging materials industry, 61% of which are located in Istanbul. Production of plastic packaging materials increased by CAGR of 2,4% on amount basis over the 5 years covering the 2014-2018 period, while it decreased by CAGR of 1,6% on value basis and realized as 3,66 million tons and USD 12,06 billion in 2018. Production of plastic packaging materials was realized as 1 million 746 thousand tons and USD 5,4 billion in the first half of 2019 decreasing by 14% on amount and 21% on value basis compared to the peer period of 2018, states a report by PAGEV.

Innovation is also an important factor of success in this sector. According to PAGEV experts, companies in the plastic packaging industry that use R&D extensively to develop new products which are easy to use for the market will have a strategic advantage over their competitors. In recent years, the volume of plastics used for packaging purposes has decreased by approximately 30% on average, and during the same period, films used for palletization have decreased by 78%, PAGEV data shows. Looking ahead, it is forecast that the efficiency of multi-material processes will continue to break new ground in areas such as breathable plastics packaging for food storage.

In order to increase the value-added in the plastic packaging sector several actions can be taken: to manufacture products with useful models; to determine the priorities in R&D investments; to establish R&D and product policies; to develop mechanisms to encourage mergers and acquisitions for strengthening international competitiveness; and to increase university-industry cooperation.


Sustainability considerations

Recent studies show that most Turkish companies do not target the idea of designing sustainable products directly, but because of the laws and regulations, competition creation and economic reasons, sustainable product criteria are partially applied. It is found that the work carried out within the framework of company strategic plans generally includes reduction of material use at product level, application of easy and rapid processes at the production stages, and reduction of the energy consumed in manufacturing.

Companies in the Turkish packaging industry believe that government and producers both have vital roles in terms of tackling environmental issues and responsibilities towards sustainability. On the issue of being environmentally conscious in the designs they produce, manufacturers are mostly influenced by other producers while the customer factor comes as secondary. The most significant inducement about the environmental consciousness in the companies’ work on sustainability can be listed as being in compliance with the legislation and regulations, consumer needs and market opportunities.

Turkish packaging producers have reached a consensus on the necessity of being more active about environmental issues and actions in their organizations. It is widely considered that working on environmental issues will improve the companies’ brand reputation and positively affect their corporate identity.

It is clear that sustainable production design and methods are important contributors to the solution of environmental problems such as waste reduction and natural resource conservation, cutting down production costs and thus curbing product prices and operating costs. In order for sustainable production systems to be implemented in a healthy and effective way in the Turkish packaging industry, it is necessary for the term sustainability to be in the management decisions of the companies, and starting from the design stage, the products should be dealt with and developed in line with these criteria.

How much the concept of sustainability is present in design and production in Turkey is an issue of debate. Turkey’s institutional capacity in terms of sustainability has been reported as limited compared to examples from the European Union. Further research states that for the first stage of innovation support, sustainability-related services and tools need to be developed more quickly for sustainable design. The European Union Compliance Criteria Framework, Kyoto Protocol guidelines and related laws and regulations point to the fact that manufacturers have to use sustainable product design and manufacturing methods and inevitably have to be informed and implement necessary applications.


Major associations

The Packaging Machinery Producers Association of Turkey (AMD) was founded as a non-governmental professional organization in 2006 by some of the leading producers in the sector. The aim of AMD is to promote the growth of the country’s machine manufacturing companies and the sales of their products in domestic and international markets. The association also strives to motivate its members to increase production standards and levels, as well as to encourage the industry to be more competitive in the global markets.

The Turkish Packaging Manufacturers Association (ASD) was established in 1992 with the purposes of fostering the growth of packaging industry, giving an identity to the sector, representing it in national and international arenas and establishing scientific, technical, and social cooperation and solidarity among members. ASD has more than 200 members which can be grouped according to the main packaging material – paper, cardboard, corrugated cardboard, glass, metal, wood, flexible packaging, multilayer cardboard boxes for aseptic filling, rigid plastic packaging etc.

FASD was established in 2005 and is the sole and most competent representative of the Turkish Flexible Packaging Industry. FASD is working to develop the flexible packaging sector in Turkey as a whole and to create the necessary environment and conditions in order to turn the manufacturers in the sector into leading suppliers on the world market. The association’s strategy includes referring problems faced by its members to specific platforms, proposing solutions to relevant public institutions and organizations, and ensuring compliance with EU regulations.

The Cardboard Packaging Manufacturers Association (KASAD), which was established in 1991, has adopted the following principles as duties, vision and goals: establishing contact with cardboard packaging industrialists, identifying the difficulties and deficiencies they encounter in administrative and technical matters, discussing them with the association and suggesting solutions; organizing scientific meetings such as symposiums, seminars, panels, conferences in order to ensure that problems are discussed among members and solutions are sought; promoting the use of cardboard as a contemporary packaging material that does not pollute the environment. KASAD also monitors the studies of universities, research institutions and related public institutions and other professional organizations in this field. Furthermore, the association conducts research on norms and standards regarding cardboard packaging, collects statistical information from members and related private and public institutions, and presents the prepared reports for the use of members and relevant organizations.

The Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association in Turkey (MASD) was established in 1999 by steel packaging producers, raw material traders, machine, mould manufactures and designers aiming to realize activities directed at improving steel packaging industry and introducing the sector globally. MASD has the following basic goals: promoting the association among packaging sectors; creating a database of companies active in the industry; organizing congresses, seminars and working groups that will shed light on sector activities and problems; cooperating with educational-training organizations that provide human resources to the sector; developing projects aimed at increasing steel packaging use. The association also issues statements and provides information on topics that concern or may concern the packaging sector during the EU adaptation process.