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Japan Trends

Adding value: the key to Japan’s US$46.61 billion packaging materials industry

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Japan’s containers and packaging materials sector is on the upturn with a 2.1% increase in shipment values for the Japanese FY April 2014 to March 2015 period over the previous year. Converted at current exchange rates, shipments of packaging for last year increased to US$46.61 billion (¥ 5,607.8 billion) – a full US$95 million increase over the 2013/14 value of US$45.66 billion (¥5,494.4 billion).

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Japan’s packaging industry equipment sales grew to US$4.3bn in 2013

Japan's packaging machinery sector saw total sales of ¥414 billion
Sales of packaging equipment in Japan have picked up over the past two years since the tsunami that devastated much of the country’s east coast. In 2013 the machine sector saw total sales of ¥414 billion, or at today’s exchange rate, US$4.3bn. That’s a 3% increase over the 2011 sales figures, and an absolute Yen value increase of ¥13.5 billion (US$1.35bn).

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Japan’s Packaging Sector, still leaking but weathering the storm

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According to recently released data from Japan Packaging Institute and the Japan PET Bottle Recycling Association, the country’s packaging industry has still to completely recover from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (or Tohoku) of March 11 2011 with both volumes and values in decline for the second consecutive year.

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Packaging lessons from the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake

japan sort relief supplies
As the world’s growing population becomes more vulnerable to the impact of cyclones and hurricanes that put emergency services under stress, packaging plays an ever more crucial role in relief efforts. Yet this is rarely acknowledged; the floods, famines, earthquakes and tsunamis tend to occur in less-developed countries, where a basic lack of infrastructure hampers rescue and relief operations.

Even when cataclysmic disasters such as Katrina and Sandy strike the world’s developed and advanced economies, packaging and its function is overlooked amid the praise, the finger-pointing and politicking.

However, in the wake of what is now known as the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, a practical analysis of the role of packaging, its functions, failings and effectiveness in times of disaster holds lessons for the entire global packaging supply chain.

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