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Food Contact Materials FCMs – Chemicals sectors and intermediate materials

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The article describes the sectors that are engaged upstream of the FCMs supply chain and mostly provide for subsequent sectors in the FCMs supply chain towards semi-finished and finished products.

FCMs – Starting Substances

The overall chemicals industry in Europe is grouped under the umbrella organisation the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), which represents 670 members and affiliates. The production of various FCMs requires technical additives in order to ensure the intended function and stability and to open up technical options for production.

The professional association CEFIC-FCA i.e. the Food Contact Additives group represents the majority of manufacturers that produce these additives, which according to the organisation are estimated at between 3 000 and 4 000 substances. CEFIC-FCA groups together 35 direct company members, including companies, and 15 associations covering different sectors from the FCM supply chain industry. Most if not all members are considered large enterprises and are listed on the organisation’s website.

CEFIC-FCA members produce and supply additives used in many different types of FCM applications, such as filler masterbatch, plastics, paper and board, printing inks and coatings, and therefore supply to a large number of sectors manufacturing FCMs.

The CEFIC website reports that the overall European chemical industry represents a value of EUR 673 billion industry and is the world’s top exporter and importer of chemicals. CEFIC itself represents 29 000 large, medium-sized and small chemical companies in Europe, which directly provide 1.2 million jobs and account for 17 % of world chemical production. CEFIC states that in accordance with the EU competition law the sector was not in the position to collect either market volumes or values from its members. However, it can be seen from the CEFIC website that two of the biggest industrial users of chemicals are the plastics and rubber industry and the paper and pulp industry, sectors that are heavily involved in the manufacture of FCMs.

The use of resins in FCMs is sometimes considered separately. Resins are solid or highly viscous substances that are typically convertible into polymers and used as the basis for manufacturing plastics, adhesives, varnishes or other products. For plastics, resins are often produced in the form of pellets subjected to various processing steps.

The European Resin Manufacturers Association (ERMA) was formed to help the European resins industry meet the requirements of the European single market and represent the interests of resin manufacturers. ERMA entered into an affiliation with CEFIC to further promote European interests and ensure a uniform and concerted approach throughout Europe. No information on FCM trade was received from ERMA.


FCMs – Adhesives

An adhesive can be described as a non-metallic substance capable of joining materials by surface bonding (adhesion), and the bond possessing adequate internal strength (cohesion). Adhesives are set by either evaporating a solvent or cooling, or they cure by chemical reactions that occur between two or more constituents. FCMs may be composed of different layers of packaging material (for example plastics, paper, etc.) held together by adhesives. The 2011 report of the EFSA scientific cooperation (ESCO) working group on non-plastic food contact materials, published by EFSA, describes adhesives as a complex group of chemical formulations widely used in different types of food packaging and in different applications such as in the manufacture of rigid packs and multilayers, attachment of labels or sealing flexible packaging.

The Association of the European Adhesive and Sealant Industry (FEICA) represents the adhesives sector, which broadly speaking covers building construction and civil engineering, paper and board products, assembly operations, consumer and do-it-yourself (DIY), transportation, and woodworking and joinery. The sector of adhesives for FCMs has about 600 enterprises. FEICA represents 90 % of the large enterprises involved in this sector in Europe. FEICA has 14 national association members  that represent 50-60 % of the SMEs. FEICA estimates that it covers about 85 % of the adhesives for the FCM market. FEICA also has 20 direct member companies and seven affiliate member companies.

Typical adhesive systems used in food contact applications are described in FEICA’s guidance paper on migration testing of adhesives intended for food contact materials

and include reactive polyurethane adhesives used in the lamination of polymer films, metallised films or other materials such as paper, and adhesives based on natural polymers, acetate-based polymers or acrylic-based polymers, all of which are mainly used for paper and cardboard packaging of dry foodstuffs or for secondary and tertiary packaging, but also wet lamination of paper to foil.

Cold seals derived from natural or synthetic rubber, such as those used as a seam sealing application on film and paper for confectionary and ice cream, heat seals which are synthetic resins for film used for tray and cup lids and hot-melt adhesives based on high-levels of waxes and low levels of polyolefin copolymers applied to paper and cardboard packaging of dry foodstuffs, are also covered by FEICA’s guidance.

With respect to the supply chain, whenever a material contains adhesives the adhesive is used at every step in the supply chain (intermediate down to final). The suppliers to the adhesive sector are manufacturers of substances and mixtures, as well as certain plastic intermediate materials (e.g. polymeric additives etc.). The adhesives sector supplies to manufacturers of final plastics, glass, paper and board materials and articles, manufacturers of cork, users of final plastics or paper and board materials and articles, manufacturers or users of intermediate or final wooden materials and articles, and retailers for labels. The sector also covers the paper tissue and towel sector.

As regards the distribution of different sized enterprises, 4 % of members are large companies, 7 % are medium-sized, 29 % are small and 60 % are micro enterprises (Figure 1). These account for 50 %, 15 %, 25 % and 10 %, respectively, of the annual turnover. The small to micro adhesive producers are mainly in the south of Europe.

Figure 1: FCMs- Approximate distribution of different types of enterprises represented by FEICA producing adhesives for FCM in Europe

Figure 1: FCMs- Approximate distribution of different types of enterprises represented by FEICA producing adhesives for FCM in Europe

Figures from FEICA from 2010-2012 indicate that the overall adhesives demand (annual turnover) in Europe was estimated at around EUR 8.6 billion (food and non-food). Of this, around EUR 2.4 billion was the demand for adhesives for paper and board and related products. Available statistics are not detailed enough to indicate the proportion of this relevant to FCMs. However, FEICA has estimated that adhesives for FCMs are about 50 % of those figures — meaning around EUR 1.2 billion for Europe — or around 15 % of the total adhesives market in Europe.

Using these figures, approximate values are therefore around EUR 600 million for large enterprises, around EUR 500 million for SMEs and around EUR 100 million for micro enterprises (Figure 2). The value of food contact adhesives covered by FEICA (large enterprises and approximately half of SMEs) is thus estimated at EUR 850 million, with the remaining SMEs and micro enterprises accounting for c.EUR 350 million.

Figure 2: FCMs - Approximate annual turnover of different types of enterprises represented by FEICA producing adhesives for FCM in Europe (total estimated at EUR 1.2 billion)

Figure 2: FCMs – Approximate annual turnover of different types of enterprises represented by FEICA producing adhesives for FCM in Europe (total estimated at EUR 1.2 billion)

Stay tuned on this topic by follow our next part of FCM Chemicals sectors and intermediate materials – Part 2.



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