Rigid Plastic in Eastern Europe

March 2021

Eastern Europe is the fourth biggest region in terms of rigid plastic in the world. It has been driven by the strong performance of PET bottles in bottled water. The health and wellness trend is the main reason behind this growth as consumers seek clean hydration. COVID-19 impacted consumer goods differently, but across each space bigger pack types rose to match consumers’ demand for affordability. By 2022, pre-COVID-19 consumption habits are expected to start to reappear.

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Key Findings

Eastern Europe in the world

Eastern Europe accounted for 7% of world retail volume sales of rigid plastic in 2019. The region recorded one of the fastest growth rates globally in rigid plastic during 2014-2019, owing to an increase in PET bottles consumption accelerated by the health and wellness trend and increased bottled water per capita consumption.

The health and wellness trend continues to drive the PET bottles segment under the bottled water section

In fact, PET bottles are the dominant pack type in rigid plastic in Eastern Europe. It is, unsurprisingly, most commonly used for soft drinks packaging, especially bottled water. It is set to continue to post strong growth as the health and wellness trend expands, and as consumers have become more conscious about their health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 fostered the need for bigger rigid plastic pack types and sizes

Thin wall plastic containers and HDPE bottles are most used in yoghurt and sour milk products and other dairy. They have been benefiting from new launches and growing appreciation for the healthy properties of yoghurt and sour milk products in general. HDPE has witnessed the rise of bigger formats, particularly 125g, 155g, 200g and 300g to match consumers’ demand for convenience. COVID-19 has also accelerated the rise of bigger formats across industries in order to match consumers’ demand for greater affordability as they suffer from reduced purchasing power and economic uncertainty.

Pre-COVID-19 consumption habits are to start reappearing by 2022, as consumers attempt to go back to the “old norm”.

Each of the five discussed industries reacted differently to the impact of COVID-19: whilst some benefited from it due to increased time spent at home and the transfer of consumption occasions (dog and cat food, food, home care) some suffered from it (beauty and personal care, beverages) as the transfer of occasions from away-from-home to at-home was limited and the need to maintain physical appearance felt secondary due to lockdown and limited social interactions outside of the household. By the end of 2022, industries that were impacted by COVID-19 are set to readopt their pre-COVID-19 consumption patterns as consumers aim to go back to the “old norm”.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Eastern Europe is the fourth biggest rigid plastic market in the world
PET bottles remain the dominant pack type in the region
Rigid plastic is the second most used pack type in Eastern Europe
PET bottles is the biggest rigid plastic pack type in Eastern Europe
Ukraine recovers post-2017 in thin wall plastic containers
Russia has the most diverse and segmented rigid plastic market
Market movements impact PET, thin wall containers, trays and HDPE
Ukraine’s rigid plastic declines whilst the other three key markets expand

Top Applications

Healthy market for PET bottles: water and carbonates rise, beer declines
Thin wall plastic containers: yoghurt, sour milk, other dairy at the top
HDPE bottles move towards bigger formats in yoghurt
Plastic trays driven by sweet biscuits and Russian economic recovery
Other plastic trays progress under meat substitutes in Ukraine
Plastic screw caps lead; beverage flip-top and push-pull show gains
The health and wellness trend pushes plastic screw closures in Hungary
Poland: increased personal hygiene drives growth of bath and shower
Russian baby food drives growth in 51-100g size band

Forecast Projections

Beauty and personal care to fully recover from COVID-19 by 2024
Rising image awareness boosts hair washing frequency in Poland
Beverage packaging: Ukraine not likely to fully recover by 2024
COVID-19 drives bigger formats’ growth in soft drinks packaging
Dog and cat food packaging: Russia is the biggest market in the region
COVID-19 does not impact dog and cat food packaging in the region
Food packaging: largest gains expected to be seen in Russia and Poland
Food: yoghurt to remain the main driver in rigid plastic
Home care packaging: Poland to post the biggest forecast absolute growth
Reduced purchasing power threaten Russian home care market

Country Snapshots

Russia: Market Context
Russia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Poland: Market Context
Poland: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Ukraine: Market Context
Ukraine: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Romania: Market Context
Romania: Competitive and Retail Landscape


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