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AMI Issues Report on Agricultural Films

BRISTOL, UK | AMI Consulting has issued a new report on the global agricultural film market. Agricultural Films–Global Market 2017 analyzes the latest trends in the use of greenhouse film, mulch film, and silage film along with developments in technology, innovation, and changing film formulation.

Over the past 60 years, agricultural output and productivity have significantly increased, and plastic agricultural films for silage, mulch, and greenhouse applications have made substantial contributions to this development, says the study. In times of growing population, expanding urbanization, and shrinking arable land due to industrialization and soil erosion, any development increasing the output from the available land is welcome and embraced. The use of plastic films has been notable in the horticultural industry, as well as in preserving and improving the quality of silage and contributing to continuously increasing crop and milk yields. Protective mulch and greenhouse films have also enabled the extension of the cultivation in terms of the growing season and the location, helping growers in the harsh climatic conditions of cold as well as hot weather or water scarcity.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development formulated during the 2015 United Nations Summit has made a commitment, among others, to eradicate global poverty within the next 15-yr period and to become, for the first time in the human history, a zero-hunger generation. For this to be achieved, it is crucial to employ the latest technologies so that the efficiency of the global food supply chain is optimized, resulting in the maximum of food produced per drop of water, hectare of land and gram of agrochemicals used, while protecting crops to reduce food waste, adapting to climate change, and assuring the chain's sustainability in the long term. This will enable the continued growth of plastic films used in agriculture, which has been experiencing already healthy growth over the last ten years.

The three types of agricultural films—mulch film, greenhouse film and silage film—represent a major segment of polyethylene usage globally, valued at more than 8 billion dollars. The total demand for these films accounted for some 6 million tonnes in 2016 with greenhouse film representing nearly half of it, followed by mulch film with nearly a third and just over 20% held by silage film. The market for greenhouse film is expected to advance at the same pace of growth as mulch film, at just over 8%/annum over the next five years, while the demand for silage film is forecast to grow at a moderate rate of just under 4%.

The report says about 70% of global demand and production of agricultural films is concentrated in Asia, mainly in China, where the growth rate continues to reach double digits. This growth is driven by increasing specialization of the Chinese market, which will impact growing exports of more sophisticated films inside and outside of Asia. Another contributing factor is upgauging of previously very thin films intended mainly for the local market, which are now required by the Chinese regulations to be thicker and stronger.

The markets in Europe and North America have now matured, the study continues, although Mexico and some countries in Eastern Europe are still experiencing healthy growth in consumption of plastic films for agriculture. Another region with continued stellar growth is South and Central America, mainly due to its consumption and exports of silo bags, which have become particularly popular in this region. Due to more challenging climatic conditions, the demand in the Middle East and Africa will see steady growth at about 5%–6% a year over the next five years. Both these regions currently consume less than 4% of agricultural films produced globally.

The study notes that plastic films undoubtedly offer solutions concerning the global food supply, and they will hold an even more significant role as government funds are released to encourage agriculture in the developing regions. While agricultural films contribute to improved efficiency and output, growing concern about film waste and disposal is leading to growing interest in the use of biodegradable materials or utilizing advanced technologies that enable recycling of those heavily contaminated films where it is economically and environmentally feasible.

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