Packaging of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (2021)

Facts, figures and industry dynamics in 2021 in Italy: gradual recovery of production and consumption after an anomalous 2020.  Focus on packaging trends.  

Barbara Iascone
Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

The subject of this examination is the department of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages produced in Italy, imported and exported as well as consumed in our country (for this last parameter, we take into consideration all beverages distributed through the different sales channels, large-scale distribution, HoReCa, online sales, etc.).

Market, production volumes, trends in Italy

The beverage area, including mineral water, sees a recovery in terms of volumes of 1 percent. Decidedly better is the trend referring to turnover, which grows by 11% thanks to the recovery, albeit partial, of the consumption of beverages in the higher price range, but above all thanks to the recovery of exports, which had declined in 2020.

The increases were “spread out” over the year, with a greater concentration in the summer period and in late 2021.

As for production, after the sharp decline in 2020 (-3.7 percent), in 2021 the sector recorded a slight recovery of +1.1 percent. The amount of beverages produced in Italy is around 25,000 million liters, of which 74 percent is non-alcoholic beverages and 26 percent is alcoholic beverages.

Foreign trade shows a noticeable growth in imports (+23.6 percent); a smaller growth in exports, marked by a trend of +8.6 percent.

Apparent consumption-where stock movement is not taken into account-records a slight +0.8%. It should be noted, however, that stock movement is a very present phenomenon in this sector, especially in the alcohol sector.

The production recovery that began in 2021 is expected to be confirmed in 2022, strengthened by both the increase in exports and the recovery of domestic consumption, especially away from home.

Table 1. Balance of the beverage sector. Values in millions of litres.
  2007 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Production 22,266 24,630 25,205 25,762 24,801 25,084
Import 1,283 1,267 1,300 1,317 1,224 1,513
Export 3,017 4,212 4,787 5,020 4,680 5,084
Consumption 20,532 21,685 21,718 22,059 21,345 21,512
Source: Banca Dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Alcoholic beverages

Included in this market area are wines, sparkling wines, beer, super spirits and aperitifs. 
After a major decline in 2020 (-5.2 percent), the sector is confirmed to recover in 2021, settling around 6,500 million liters produced (+4.2 percent).  Supporting the trend, are essentially out-of-home consumption and the positive impulse derived from exports.

In this area, the most representative items are wines and sparkling wines, which together make up 66.6 percent of the segment.

However, it is sparkling wines and spirits that are the best performing sectors, both with growth rates above 10 percent.

As with the beverages sector as a whole, imports for spirits alone show significant growth (+22.5 percent). Exports close 2021 with +11.2, confirming that both exports and consumption have been major contributors to production performance.

As for 2022, we assume a confirmation of the sector, which, at the production level, should translate into about +2%.

Table 2. Balance of the alcoholic beverage sector. Values in millions of litres.
  2007 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Production 5,062 5,503 6,091 6,579 6,237 6,499
Import 809 913 919 912 823 1,008
Export 1,617 2,168 2,589 2,808 2,788 3,102
Consumption 4,254 4,247 4,421 4,684 4,272 4,405
Source: Banca Dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Non-alcoholic beverages

In 2021, the area is fairly stable, with a trend trend of +0.1%, however still far from recovering the -3.2% recorded the previous year.

Even for this type of beverage, it is imports that show the best trend, settling at +25.8 percent; the increase in exports is decidedly smaller, coming in at +4.8 percent. Consumption is also substantially stable, +0.2 percent.

Based on the volume analysis, the most representative beverage in the segment remains mineral water (79% of production), and it is because of this representativeness that it influences the trends in the sector. In fact, mineral water closes 2021 at +1.6%, while all other non-alcoholic beverages record production declines, albeit small compared to 2020: soft drinks -3.8%, fruit juices and nectars -12% (confirming a non-positive trend already evident in past years), flat drinks 4.2%.

Table 3. Balance of the non-alcoholic beverage sector. Values in millions of litres.
  2007 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Production 17,204 19,127 19,114 19,183 18,564 18,585
Import 474 354 381 405 401 505
Export 1,400 2,044 2,198 2,212 1,892 1,983
Consumption 16,278 17,437 17,297 17,375 17,073 17,107
Source: Banca Dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Summarizing….

Below are the average annual trends recorded by the industry from 2007 to 2021.

Alcoholic beverages from 2007 to 2021:

  • production +2% annual average
  • export +6.6% annual average
  • import +1.8% annual average
  • consumption +0.3% annual average

Non alcoholic beverages from 2007 to 2021:

  • production +0.6% annual average
  • export +3% annual average
  • import +0.5% annual average
  • consumption +0.4% annual average

Beverage packaging

The 2021 evolution of the different types of packaging popular in the industry was partly influenced by the 2020 trend. We refer in particular to some tailspin in Ho.Re.Ca and materials more related to catering, which can be completely contained with the restart of the sector, albeit with the brakes on.

For the beverage sector as a whole (alcoholic + non-alcoholic), the packaging mix in 2021 (pre-consensus data) sees the largest participation of plastic bottles (59.1 percent), followed by glass (31.1 percent), rigid containers made of poly-coated cellulose (2.8 percent), cans (2.4 percent) and the “other” item (cheerpacks, plastic cups, draught distribution, keg drums, demijohns) at 4.6 percent.

Table 4. Packaging mix beverage sector. Values %.
  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Glass bottles 29.5% 30.7% 31.6% 30.1% 31.1%
Mainly paper laminates 3.2% 3.2% 3.1% 3.0% 2.8%
PET bottles 60.2% 58.8% 58.0% 59.9% 59.1%
Metal tins 2.5% 2.4% 2.4% 2.5% 2.4%
Other (1) 4.7% 4.9% 4.9% 4.6% 4.6%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%

(1) Cheerpacks, cups, draught distributors

Source: Banca dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

As for alcoholic beverages, the glass bottle continues to be the most widely used packaging with a market share of 77.4 percent, up from 2020. It is followed with 12.5 percent by “other”-which includes kegs, carboys and draught beverage dispensers-which, on the other hand, is declining compared to 2020.

Paper-dominant laminated containers account for 5.4 percent of the packaging mix, while metal cans register a 3.7 percent market share. Plastic bottles account for only 1 percent.

Table 5. Packaging mix alcoholic beverage sector. Values %.
  2020 2021
Glass bottles 77.00% 77.40%
Mainly paper laminates 5.50% 5.40%
PET bottles 1.02% 1.00%
Metal tins 3.80% 3.70%
Other (1) 12.70% 12.5%
Total 100% 100%

(1) Cheerpacks, cups, draught distributors

Source: Banca dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Within the soft drink segment, the plastic bottle remains predominant, with mineral water being the main user.

In 2021, the plastic bottle registers a market share of 80 percent, stable compared to the previous year; glass, recovers a few percentage points (14.2 percent) while with significantly smaller shares are followed by paper-dominated laminated containers (2 percent), cans (2.0 percent) and the “other” item - cheerpacks, kegs and dispensers on tap - with 1.7 percent.

Table 6. Packaging mix non-alcoholic beverage sector. Values %.
  2020 2021
Glass bottles 13.9% 14.2%
Mainly paper laminates 2.1% 1.9%
PET bottles 80.0% 80.0%
Metal tins 2.1% 2.0%
Other (1) 1.8% 1.7%
Total 100% 100%

(1) Cheerpacks, cups, draught distributors

Source: Banca dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

There seems to be no doubt that interest in more environmentally friendly types of packaging will continue to drive the beverage sector as well: this is the case with the plastic bottle, which will confirm its relevant position, although it implies a greater focus on plastics from recycling or on an increasingly efficient recovery of packaging from waste.

Find out more information about the companies mentioned in this article and published in the Buyers' Guide - PackBook by ItaliaImballaggio
Istituto Italiano Imballaggio