Glass packaging (2022)

Production and the types and uses of hollow and tube glass packaging. 2022 market data and facts.

A cura di Barbara Iascone
Ufficio Studi Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

The analysis takes under consideration the hollow and tube glass packaging sector. With regards to hollow glass packaging, the subdivision used in “Imballaggio in Cifre” (Packaging in Figures) and shared with the Assovetro category association is into bottles, jars and vials. Tube glass packaging - vials and small bottles - are used essentially in the pharmaceutical sector.

The market: confirmations and variations

Glass packaging is used primarily in the food context, specifically in the drinks area. It has exclusive use in the sparkling wine and spirits sectors, but also for wine and beer there is a clear preference for this material in the packaging mix.

It is estimated that in 2022 over 4,500 t/000 of glass packaging were used, of which 97% intended for the food sector; the remaining 3% is divided between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In the food sector, bottles for beverages account for 75%, while the remaining 5% is divided between jars and bottles for the food sector (tomato derivatives, preserves, milk, condiments, etc.). Glass has taken a sort of revenge on competing materials in the last few years, as it has managed to arouse renewed attention from producers: in many sectors in which it had been largely overtaken by plastic, it has regained small shares of the market. This is the case of non-alcoholic drinks, in which glass was most used for still and sparkling drinks, essentially for marketing and communication purposes.

Evolution. On the basis of initial analyses relating to 2023, the data shows a sector that could close the year with a production growth of around 1%, imports at around +3% and exports falling by 9%. Glass packaging will suffer a substantial setback in the beverages market.

Table 1. Evolution of the glass packaging market (data in t/000).
Year Production Exports Imports Apparent consumption
2001 3,519 459 306 3,366
2002 3,540 433 356 3,463
2003 3,561 458 305 3,408
2004 3.602 476 378 3.504
2005 3,561 411 362 3,512
2006 3,568 419 367 3,516
2007 3,641 453 381 3,569
2008 3,695 450 433 3,678
2009 3,354 360 398 3,392
2010 3,528 405 544 3,667
2011 3,590 421 552 3,721
2012 3,414 412 571 3,573
2013 3,463 442 522 3,543
2014 3,719 440 614 3,893
2015 3,811 467 656 4,000
2016 3,937 445 704 4,196
2017 4,048 452 679 4,275
2018 4,167 482 793 4,478
2019 4,369 513 834 4,690
2020 4,326 465 910 4,771
2021 4,575 527 1,075 5,123
2022 4,651 533 1,176 5,294
Source: Imballaggio in cifre, Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Sector data

Based on the findings of the analysis published in Imballaggio in Cifre (Italian Packaging Institute ed. 2023, analysis of Assovetro data), in 2022 production of glass packaging (empty) exceeded 4,650 t/000, recording a growth of +1.6%. The trend in imports is worth underlining, recording a +9.4% compared to 2021 and exceeding 1,170 t/000. Exports also show a positive trend, +1.1%, also if quantitatively lower compared to imports. Apparent consumptions grew by 3.3%. On the basis of an analysis of ISTAT data, the turnover for the sector grew by +1.2% exceeding 1,500 million euros.

Foreign trade shows the usual negative balance for Italy, which translates into an apparent consumption of glass bottles that is higher than national production. This characteristic is linked to both the bottles market and the jars market, for which our production capacity is unable to meet domestic demand.

Types and sectors of use of hollow glass

Bottles. The production of bottles represents 88.2% of the hollow glass packaging sector and in 2022 shows an increase of 1.8%. Imports confirm a positive trend at +11.3%; exports are down, closing 2022 with -4.5%. Apparent consumption (which does not take account of stock movements) is sustained by imports which in 2022 grew by 4%. 70% of the bottles produced are intended for alcoholic drinks, a slight fall compared to 2021 due to a fall in consumption in terms of volumes.

The proportion intended for non-alcoholic drinks is, instead, up in 2022 accounting for around 16.2% of the sector. It should be noted, in the context, that besides beverages, milk is showing a “pro-glass” trend: it’s becoming easier, in fact, to find once more glass bottles on the supermarket shelves, although the numbers are still far from plastic and poly-laminated packaging.

8.2% of bottles are used for tomato derivatives (puree, ketchup…) and, to close the segmentation, we have condiments with 5.6%. With regard to the use of glass bottles, a quantity of over 4.200 t/000 is estimated for 2022, stable compared to the previous year.

Jars. The production of glass jars (empty, to be filled) accounts for 6.5% of total production: in 2022, after a 2021 in sharp decline, it returned to growth, recording a trend of +2.5%.

There was fall in exports also for jars, -4.4%, against a growth in imports of +1.3%. Use also fell in 2022: 660 t/000, -1.4% compared with 2021. The segmentation of the glass jars area is divided into different types of products. The largest area is vegetable preserves + ready sauces (44.7% of the sector).

The baby food area (homogenised products) accounts for 17.1% of the sector, followed by the “other food” heading, with a 11.5% share, which includes fruit in syrup, olives, maize, spices, jams, spreadable creams and yogurt.

These areas are followed by sauces (5.3%), fish preserves (tuna, anchovy fillets, mackerel, etc.) at 4.3%. The remaining 14.7% is for the NON-food market, which essentially includes the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sectors.

Vials. Always with reference to empty packaging, in 2022 production fell by -2%. Foreign trade has positive trends, +4.7% for imports and +14.1% for exports. In 2022 segmentation by sectors of use in this area shows 63.2% intended for the cosmetics sector and 34.8% the pharmaceutical sector; the remaining 2% refers to the “other sectors” heading of use, mainly in the chemical field (paints, glues, etc.). This type of glass packaging represents 4.7% of the entire sector.

Table 2. Breakdown per sector of use for production of glass packaging. New packaging placed on the market, including returnables (figures in % referred to tons of packaging, 2022/2021).
Bottles (including returnables) 2022 2021
Alcoholic beverages 70.00% 71.60%
Non alcoholic beverages 16.20% 14.40%
Condiments (2) 5.60% 5.80%
Other (3) 8.20% 8.20%
Total 100% 100%
(1) Milk included    
(2) Food oil and vinegar    
(3) Tomato sauces and ketchup    
Jars 2022 2021
Vegetable preserves and sauces 44.70% 45.50%
Babyfoods 17.10% 16.90%
Fish preserves 4.30% 4.50%
Sauces 5.30% 5.30%
Processed tomato products 2.50% 2.30%
Other food 11.50% 11.20%
Other non food 14.70% 14.40%
Total 100% 100%
Hollow glass flacons 2022 2021
Cosmetics and perfumes 63.20% 62.80%
Pharmaceutical products 34.80% 35.00%
Other (1) 2.00% 2.20%
Total 100% 100%
(1) Chemical    
Flacons and vials in tubular glass 2022 2021
Cosmetics and perfumery 14% 14%
Pharmaceutical 85% 85%
Other (1) 1% 1%
Total 100% 100%
(1) Chemicals    
Source: Banca Dati Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

Notes on tube glass

With regards to tube glass (the remaining 0.5% of glass packaging), it is used for 85% in the pharmaceutical sector and for the remaining 15% is divided between cosmetics and other uses. The area recorded a production growth of +17.2%.

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

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