Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) Market Soars: Projected to Surpass US$ 46.2 Billion by 2033 | FMI

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According to Future Market Insights, the global intermediate bulk container (IBC) market size is forecast to inflate from US$ 23.8 billion in 2023 to US$ 46.2 billion by 2033. Overall intermediate bulk container demand is expected to surge at 6.9% CAGR throughout the assessment period (2023 to 2033).

The burgeoning need for intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) across diverse sectors such as chemical, mining, pharmaceutical, food & beverages, agriculture, and more is set to propel market demand. A rapid surge in global intermediate bulk container industry is anticipated in the projected period (2023-2033) due to a surge in cross-border trade facilitated by lenient trade regulations.

The USA’s intermediate bulk container (IBC) market is poised for substantial growth, with an expected 86.7% share of the North American market by 2033. In 2022, the country already saw the market reach a substantial valuation of $3.5 billion. Several key factors contribute to this growth, including the rising export of food, chemicals, and pharmaceutical products, a growing demand for safe and convenient bulk packaging solutions, and the strong presence of IBC manufacturers.

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Increasing import and export of essential commodities such as pharmaceuticals, food & beverages, fertilizers, and petroleum across the world and growing demand for safe and convenient bulk packaging solutions are the key factors driving the global intermediate bulk container (IBC) market forward.

Intermediate bulk containers have emerged as ideal packaging solutions for storing and transporting bulk solid, semi-solid, and liquid materials due to their safer, convenient, and cost-effective nature. Rising usage of these bulk packaging solutions across industries such as food & beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemical is expected to boost intermediate bulk container sales during the forecast period.

Numerous products are not exported or traded to different nations due to the unavailability of convenient and effective packaging types to transport them. Intermediate bulk containers (RBCs and FIBCs) are highly cost-effective packaging solutions, which ensure the product is shipped in its original form to its destination.

Prospecting untapped regions for exports of products will create an abundance of opportunities for the growth of the IBC market during the projection period. Regions such as Europe and North America are witnessing high demand for organic food products. Shipping of these organic products from various regions will require the use of bulk bags, thereby further strong-arming the market in these regions.

Factors such as ever-emerging cross-country trade, increased demand for modern containers to carry large liquid quantities, and reforming of rigid IBCs for reducing packaging scrap will exponentially increase intermediate bulk container sales globally.

FIBCs are the most suitable option for the export of food products. Flexible intermediate container (FIBC) bags are preferred over corrugated boxes, as they have a relatively high shelf-life and are also lightweight.

Key Takeaways from Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) Market

  • By product type, the flexible IBC segment is likely to hold around 94% market share by the end of 2033.
  • Based on material, plastic segment will continue to dominate the global intermediate bulk container (IBC) market during the next decade.
  • In terms of content, solid & semi-solids segment is forecast to showcase an incremental opportunity of US$ 20.3 billion, during the assessment years.
  • By end use, chemicals sub-segment in RIBCs category is estimated to create an incremental opportunity of US$ 1.2 billion during the projection period while food and agriculture sub-segment of FIBCs category is estimated to create an incremental opportunity of US$ 8.4 billion by the end of 2033.
  • Europe is forecast to remain at the leading position and hold around 1/3rd share of the global market during the assessment period.
  • With increasing manufacturing activities, East Asia and South Asia markets are estimated to witness a gain of 250 bps and 140 bps of current market share respectively by 2033.
  • The U.S. intermediate bulk container (IBC) market reached US$ 3.5 billion in 2022 and it is expected to hold 7% share of North America market by 2033.
  • China’s intermediate bulk container market is forecast to exhibit a CAGR of 5% between 2023 and 2033.

 “Growing demand for flexible and rigid intermediate bulk containers due to their packaging capabilities in storing and transporting liquid, semi-solid and solid contents safely and conveniently is anticipated to provide a strong thrust to the global intermediate bulk container market development,” says an FMI analyst

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Who is Winning?

  • Grief Inc
  • Thielmann US LLC
  • Schafer Werke Gmbh
  • Time Technoplast Ltd
  • International Paper Company
  • DS Smith Plc
  • Mondi Plc
  • SCHÜTZ GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Mauser Packaging Solutions
  • Berry Global, Inc
  • Hoover Ferguson Group
  • Snyder Industries, Inc
  • Bulk Lift International, Inc
  • HCS Group
  • Transtainer
  • Obal Centrum s.r.o
  • others

High Demand for Advanced Containers for Large Quantity Liquid Transportation to Facilitate Intermediate Bulk Container Market Expansion

Most European countries have witnessed a steady recovery from the recent recession caused by the pandemic, and are likely to increase trade activities over the forecast period. This, coupled with healthy growth in the trade volume of IBCs in the East Asia & South Asia regions, is expected to play a crucial role in stabilizing global trade.

Since there is a noteworthy existence of a link between the supply and demand chains for industrial packaging, enhanced industrial packaging demand is evident, with stabilized manufacturing sector output. Though the demand for IBCs is likely to be concentrated in the Asian region, an important contribution to the global demand is also expected from other regions such as Europe and MEA because of the increase in the transportation of large volumes of goods.

The USA intermediate bulk container market is expected to register robust growth over the forecast period because of the increasing volume of export and import goods such as petroleum, food, chemicals, paints, and other commodities. One of the key reasons augmenting the demand for IBCs is the efficiency of the manufacturing industry and industrial output.

Ever-increasing Cross Country Trade to Boost IBCs Demand

In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in cross-country trade due to globalization and open trade policies, and the trend is expected to further escalate during the upcoming years. This in turn will generate high demand for bulk packaging solutions such as intermediate bulk containers (IBCs).

Regions such as North America are seeing an exponential rise in demand for food, petroleum, and chemical applications. Around 33% of the agricultural land in the USA is meant only for exports, which propels the need for bulk packaging. IBCs offer several benefits such as reusability, leading to their long range of applications across various end users.

Further, one of the key factors leading to adoption of IBCs is their exponentially small contamination problem, since IBCs are manufactured with utmost care and periodic reconditions.

Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container Bags to Remain the Top Selling Product Category

Flexible intermediate bulk container bags are widely used by end-use industries due to their durability and lightweight properties. The target sub-segment is anticipated to hold about 93% of the market share by the end of 2023.

Western nations are largely emphasizing sustainable development and stringent rules for the environment are made, due to which procurement of raw materials will cause loss for several key players in these markets. But the FIBC bags are highly reusable and a sustainable option present in the market.

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Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) Industry by Category

By Product:

  • RIBC
    • Metal
    • Paperboard
    • Plastic
    • Composite
  • FIBC
    • Flexitanks
    • Bags

By Material:

  • Metal & Paperboard
  • Plastic
    • Polyethylene (PE)
    • Polypropylene (PP)
    • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

By Content:

  • Liquid
  • Solid & Semi-Solids

By Capacity:

  • RIBC
    • Up to 1,000 L
    • 1,000 – 1,500 L
    • Above 1,500 L
  • FIBC
    • Up to 500 KG
    • 501 to 1,000 KG
    • 1,001 to 1,500 KG
    • Above 1,500 KG

By End Use:

  • RIBC
    • Chemicals
    • Petroleum & Lubricants
    • Paints, Inks & Dyes
    • Food & Beverage
    • Cosmetic & Personal
    • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
    • Others
  • FIBC
    • Chemicals & Fertilizers
    • Food & Agriculture
    • Building & Construction
    • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
    • Mining
    • Others

About Future Market Insights (FMI)

Future Market Insights, Inc. (ESOMAR certified, recipient of the Stevie Award, and a member of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce) offers profound insights into the driving factors that are boosting demand in the market. FMI stands as the leading global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, consulting, and events for the Packaging, Food and Beverage, Consumer, Technology, Healthcare, Industrial, and Chemicals markets. With a vast team of over 5000 analysts worldwide, FMI provides global, regional, and local expertise on diverse domains and industry trends across more than 110 countries.

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About the Author

Ronak Shah

Associate Vice President at Future Market Insights is deeply committed to uncovering actionable insights for consumer and food and beverage players. She brings a unique blend of analysis, industry trends, and consumer behavior to put data into perspective.

What she makes out of data becomes a delight to read. She has authored many opinions, including for publications like Process Industry Informer and Spinal Surgery News, as she understands the market pulse and consumers' shifting preferences.

She likes to bring experts to a roundtable to weigh the impact of a trend on an industry. Catch up with her discussion on the impact of AI in packaging.

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