JAPAN - Three years on from the devastating tsunami that struck its shores, Japan's packaging industry is now firmly back on the road to recovery. Overall packaging value rose more than 2% in 2013 over the previous year, according to recently released data from the Japan Packaging Institute (JPI).
In real terms, the total value of Japan’s packaging industry reached ¥6,049.20 billion, which at today’s exchange rate is approximately US$59.4 billion. This represents 1.27% of the national GDP.
Before we dig into the numbers, two things must be understood: Firstly, the Japanese accounting period for 2013 runs from April 2013 to March 2014, so when the annual data for 2013 is released it actually refers to the last nine months of 2013 and the first three months of 2014. Secondly, the current government under Premier Shinzō Abe has been pursuing a policy designed to arrest two decades of falling prices and stimulate the economy.
Known colloquially as Abenomics, the policy has seen the Yen tumble through ¥100 against the Dollar to hit its weakest level in more than four years. Since November 2013, the Yen has slid nearly 30% against the Dollar, matched recently by a similar slide against the Euro.
So honestly, any attempt at converting the currency from Yen and making the data values more user friendly to anyone outside Japan, is rendered completely meaningless. Where we do give a US dollar conversion, it should be considered as little more than a vague notion. After all, the Japanese year-end for the final data was March 2013, and we are writing this mid-August 2014.
Under the Japanese data reporting system, the total scale of the packaging industry combines the values and volumes of both packaging materials/containers and packaging equipment.
It is a pretty uneven combination: The total value of packaging materials and containers for the period represented ¥5.6 trillion.
Market share — packaging materials and containers
According to JPI data, the total value of packaging material and containers for the 2013 period amounted to ¥5.607 trillion (approximately US$54.9 billion).
Plastics held its own with 30% of the total packaging material shipments by value. Valued at ¥1.66 trillion, the total volume of plastics shipments reached 3.5 million tonnes for the period.
With a total volume of 1.62 million tonnes, metal returned a value of ¥944.6 billion giving it a 17% market share.
Glass, always the poor relation accounted for 2% of the total material shipments valued at ¥124.7 billion.
While most industries in Japan use plastics pallets for transport shipping, wood does still play a significant role in the packaging of more traditional products. Wood actually managed to overtake glass packaging values at 2.5% or ¥139.8 billion.
Since the data represents actual package shipments, ‘other materials’ such as seals, labels, tapes, textile products, and cellophanes are component parts of the shipped package and are not represented in volume terms. However, since they are part of the package, they do have a recognised value of ¥388.2 billion - a full 7% of the total packaging shipment value in 2013.
Have you registered for the Packaging Insight Japan Tour 2014 yet? Held in conjunction with TOKYO PACK 2014, this special one-day orientation program offers foreign visitors a unique insight into Japan's US$77 billion packaging industry and will enable you to gain the maximum benefit from your visit to the exhibition.