Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) Market

IBC Manufacturers Capitalizing on Swelling Trade Volumes and Steady Expansion of Chemical Industry

About the Report

The utilization of intermediate bulk containers for storage purpose in various industries, e.g. pharmaceutical, chemical industries, etc. remains a key strength for the growth of intermediate Bulk Containers. Investments in developing sustainable and environment friendly IBC’s is enabling the aftermarket to look forward towards the innovations in the product. Some recent developments in IBC’s are

Grief has introduced a game changing innovation since the introduction of Intermediate Bulk Containers, named, SealGuard in July 2020. The sealguard is a bonding process used for the prevention of leakage. The SealGuard is a clean construction ensuring purity and fundamentally reducing the risk of any potential contamination of the enclosed material. The bonding process used during the production brings moisture ingress avoidance and ensures the integrity of the contained materials. The product eliminates the use of complex multilayer constructions and simplifies the handling and filling process.

The launch of Gcube intermediate bulk container is another innovation by Grief in the same year. It is made up of transparent post-consumer resin (PCR) in the bottle. The two external layers of the bottle are made up of PCR and the inner layer is 100% virgin high density polyethylene. According to the manufacturing company, this sustainable bottle reduces the carbon footprints by up to 38%. The specialty of the bottle remains its environmentally feature reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.

TriEnda in June 2020 have introduced Bulk Bag Pallet, a new flexible intermediate bulk container solution designed for transporting goods and prevent damage to bulky materials. The Bulk Bag Pallet is ISPM 15 which means producers do not have to apply any specialised treatment before exporting goods as it was required in case of wooden pallets.

KPL, India has recently launched Modified Atmosphere Packaging, a new innovative packaging solution for creating Controlled Atmosphere in flexible IBC’s. The benefits of modified atmosphere packaging include, increased shelf life of packaged food products, pest prevention, contamination control, no chemical preservatives and it also ensures reduction in wastage of edible products. The work of modified atmosphere packaging is to adjust the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels within the packaging to the desired value.

  1. The global IBCs market size in 2018 is ~ US$ 19 Bn.
  2. The IBCs market is projected to grow at ~ 6% during the next ten years.
  3. The chemical segment remains highly attractive regarding the revenue share of the global IBCs Market during the forecast period. Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals segment create an incremental revenue opportunity of ~ US$ 0.2 Bn.
  4. Emergence of IBCs as a cost-efficient bulk packaging solution over drums fuelling the growth of IBC’s globally.
    • IBCs account for lower cost of storage and transportation of fluids as compared to drums. The round shape of the drums results into huge unutilized space, while IBCs ensure maximum space utilization. As pallets are mounted to the bottom of the IBCs, the handling is relatively easier compared to drums. Besides, IBCs are capable of draining completely, which is not possible in case of drums. All these factors result into ~ 75% savings in the cost of storage and transportation of fluids with the use of IBCs over drums.
  5. The European region is expected to remain at forefront regarding the market share worldwide during the forecast period. The region is expected to get a significant boost from growing chemical, food & agriculture, and other end-use industries. Also, increasing trade activities across the European region is likely to propel the demand for the IBCs in the coming years.
    • Germany is likely to remain a heavy-weight regarding chemical production, and growing industrial output in the region is expected to create substantial demand for IBCs in the coming years.
  6. Value chain participants are focusing on adopting their business prototypes and growth strategies in line, with the increasing adoption of IBCs for packaging and transportation of various products. It is expected that the IBC sector will continue to witness several mergers & acquisitions as companies rush to enhance their manufacturing capabilities and broaden their global footprints.

Intermediate Bulk Containers Market Outlook

The global intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) market is riding on a moderate to high growth trajectory, owing to a substantial impetus being received from such end-use industries as chemicals, food & beverages, cosmetics, healthcare, etc.

While the growth projections appear positive, the COVID-19 pandemic is slated to usher in a recessionary phase for the short-term forecast lasting until 2022. As governments worldwide imposed nationwide lockdowns, several end-use industries suffered major setbacks, with production cycles experiencing a significant downswing.

Consequently, the packaging industry also experienced disruptions, with shipments of products being impacted drastically. This led to a southward growth shift in the intermediate bulk containers. Fortunately, countries worldwide are easing restrictions to bring their economies to pre-pandemic levels in the wake of flattening infection curves.

This easing of restrictions is permitting production cycles to revert to normalcy, thus uplifting growth prospects for the intermediate bulk containers market. However, the sluggishness induced in the initial months of 2020 will take a long time to phase out as companies struggle to address revenue shortfalls.

Prominent manufacturers in the global intermediate bulk containers market are emphasizing on sustainable packaging solutions as environmental concerns take precedence. Moreover, to survive the competition, vendors rely on strategic collaborations and partnerships with other players.

Recently, in October 2020, Greif Inc. announced the construction of a new series of faceted open head drums in response to specifications set by a Latin American client for a head drum which would weigh less than a standard drum but offered same performance. This drum is likely to weigh 14% less.

In May 2020, SCHUTZ GmBh introduced a new label plate for its Recontainer series of products which is optimized for different grid cages. This introduction will enable the company to achieve its sustainability outlook by better collecting and disposing off adhesive residues from old labels, thereby assuring the highest quality cross packaging in the coming years

Key Factors Shaping the Global IBCs Market

Rapidly Evolving Cross Border Trade Boosting the Demand for IBCs

Emerging economies are witnessing spectacular growth in the trade volume. Governments of economic capitals such as China and India have numerous ongoing projects, which aim to principally double the volume of the current trade in the next five years, which, in turn, is probable to boost the demand for IBCs. Also, North America has been witnessing a vertical rise in demand for chemical and food applications.

One-third of the agricultural land in the U.S. is meant mainly for exports, which drive the necessity for bulk packaging. IBCs offer several advantages such as reusability, leading to their wide applications across various end users. Another factor is their minimum contamination issue since they are manufactured with utmost care and periodic reconditions. Hence, IBCs are likely to gain significant traction during the forecast period. 

Increase in Bulk Container Prices Due to Fluctuating Raw Material Prices

Volatility in raw material prices and other input costs have led to an increase in prices of the bulk containers. This fact is exemplified by increase in prices of the IBCs by Greif, Inc. The lack of import is limiting the supply of raw materials. When combined with delayed deliveries, this factor is further escalating the raw material prices and consecutively, limiting the profitability of the bulk container manufacturers. 

Improved Material Capabilities for Effective Functional Performance

Gaining from the rebounded performance of the chemicals sector, which is a key end buyer of the bulk industrial containers, manufacturers of IBCs are leveraging their in-house research and development capabilities to innovate products that suits specific requirements. The global IBCs market is reflecting the customized standardization trend, where manufacturers develop products to meet the specific requirements of the end users. 

Lucrative Growth Opportunities for the IBCs Market in Emerging Countries

The South & East Asia together will account for a momentous share of the global IBCs market. India in South Asia while China in East Asia are projected to register a remarkable growth driven by continuous expansion of the end-use industries and rising trade volume.

As manufacturers of IBCs focus on expanding their reach, they are most likely to eye on developing countries to capitalize on the lucrative growth opportunities. Thus, South & East Asia are foreseen to remain lucrative for the growth of the IBCs. 

IBCs Market Structure Analysis

  • The global IBCs market is characterized by the presence of fewer organized players, significantly influencing the growth of IBC’s.
  • Tier 1 players have wide product portfolio. Tier 1 companies contribute significantly to the growth of the IBCs Market.
  • Tier 1 players are foreseen to increase the global footmark either via mergers and acquisitions or collaborations with the regional manufacturers.
  • Tier 2 players are characterized by the decent presence overseas, and a good portfolio of IBCs, and tier 3 players include most of the unorganized sectors.

A Shift from Space-intensive Cylindrical Drums

Over the years, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) have been deployed across multiple industrial domains for an array of applications. Prominent players operating in the packaging industry are in the process of developing cost-effective and sustainable packaging solutions for shipping a range of goods. Further, IBCs have gained recognition as an excellent solution to safer packaging and transportation, for several key industries, including chemical, cosmetics, food & beverages, healthcare, and cosmetics among others.

The numerous advantages that IBCs offer over other alternatives, such as cylindrical drums, account for their global demand growth registered in recent years. As environmental concerns continue to aggravate, and particularly revolve around the growing need for recycling and safe disposal of packaging containers, it is highly likely that IBCs will witness steady growth in demand over the years to come, receiving a strong impetus from increase in R&D activities that target enhanced material capabilities.

Chemical Industry - Heading Towards Safer and Efficient Logistics with IBCs

For the prominent players operating in the chemical industry, transportation and storage of dangerous chemical compounds is a complex task. Thus, to solve these problems, intermediate bulk containers have made their presence felt in the chemical and the petrochemical sector. Further, with advancements in technology and additional research, state-of-the-art IBCs are used for safe transportation within the chemical industry. In addition, the surge in transportation activities for chemicals, hazardous materials, fuels, and liquids among others has boosted the demand for IBCs in recent years.

The growing adoption of IBCs in the petrochemical sector has accelerated transportation especially for small-volume shipments.  Owing to its robustness, versatility, and reusable properties, stainless steel IBCs have gained attention and acceptance in the chemical industry. Further, stainless steel IBCs are available in an array of sizes ranging from 119 gallons to 793 gallons. Besides, IBCs can also be customized based on the requirement.

In addition, stainless steel IBCs also solve cross-contamination challenges as they are easy to clean and can be reused to store and transport different chemicals. Other factors that contribute towards the growing demand for IBCs from the chemical sector include its long-term value and cost-effectiveness.

Opportunities Galore in Europe and North America

In the current scenario, Europe and North America are the front runners in the global IBC market owing to significant advances in the field in the last couple of decades. Further, stringent policies governing the safe disposal and reuse of IBCs in the aforementioned regions have set a strong foundation for adoption in the region. The growing adoption of bag-in-box IBCs in Europe especially within the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry have boosted the demand for flexible IBCs in the region.

In addition, the surge in demand for reliable and robust IBCs from the chemical, food and the agriculture sectors in North America and Europe has propelled sales in these regions. Manufacturers in the region are focusing on product innovation and R&D to gain a firm foothold in the IBC sector.

Food Industry - Solutions to Overcome One-trip Packaging

The narrowing profits within the food industry has compelled industry players to seek feasible and cost-effective solutions to increase profitability in packaging materials. Efforts are in pipeline to reduce one-trip packaging and re-usage of IBCs could potentially help food manufacturers overcome that challenge. However, re-usage of IBCs in the food sector is likely to be feasible only when hygiene standards are maintained.

Further, IBCs in the food industry have to comply with the hygiene standards and pose no threat to human health. Thus, reconditioned flexible IBCs have gradually gained significant amount of popularity in the food industry worldwide. However, the applications of IBCs in the food industry will primarily rely on impact on human health and hygiene among others.

How Growth Will Unfold

Environmental concerns over recycling and safe disposal of plastic containers will play a vital role in influencing the growth in the coming years. Further, the noteworthy growth of the chemical industry in Europe and North America is further expected to open new avenues for growth of IBC in the region.  Efficient and cost-effective rectangular IBCs have gained tremendous popularity over cylindrical drums owing to factors including optimum utilization of space and more.

The surge in demand for chemicals, paints, dyes, inks, and more in North America are expected to increase the demand for IBCs in the region. Further, prominent players in the industry are leveraging the benefits of IBCs to streamline the transportation of hazardous chemicals, solvents, etc. Apart from huge opportunities in the chemical sector, recent trends suggest that the demand for IBCs from the food and the e-commerce sector is expected to grow in the coming years.

In the current scenario, prominent players are concentrating on developing cost-effective, sustainable, and reliable packaging solutions. Further, to grow sales in the emerging countries, inorganic strategies such as mergers and acquisitions are likely to grow in the coming years.

Key Segment

By Material Type

By Product Type

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

By Content Type

  • Liquid
  • Solid & Semi-Solids

By Capacity Type

  • RIBC
    • Up to 1,000 L
    • 1,001 to 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 & Beverages
    • Cosmetics & Personal Care
    • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
    • Others
  • FIBC
    • Chemicals & Fertilizers
    • Food & Agriculture
    • Building & Construction
    • Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
    • Mining
    • Others

By Region

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • South Asia
  • East Asia
  • Oceania
  • MEA

Need specific information?

In the news

How Businesses Can Utilize Market Research to Create Reactive, Recession-proof Strategies for Survival

by - Sudip Saha, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Future Market Insights

Our Clients

View Our Reports from Packaging

View Reports


Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) Market