2021 Market Trends Podcast Series: Flexible Packaging

February 15, 2021 • Posted in Market Insights, Podcasts

Welcome to M. Holland’s 2021 Market Trends Podcast Series. At the end of every year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and anticipate the year to come. What drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the coming months? Typically, we share these insights and predictions in a blog, but this year we decided that a podcast format is more fitting. Listen over the next few weeks as these market managers give us an insider’s look at the plastics industry.

Last year, M. Holland’s former Film and Flexible Packaging market manager, Frank LaRocque, predicted 2020 would be a year with a formidable set of challenges. And boy, was he right! Join us as Frank shares more about the resiliency, innovative thinking and adaptability he saw from customers in 2020, the growth COVID-19 drove for the market because of e-commerce sales, and what the market can expect in 2021, as large institutions in public spaces hopefully start to reopen.

Play the podcast below.

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Host:

Welcome to M. Holland’s 2021 Market Trends Podcast Series. At the end of every year, M. Holland’s market managers take time to reflect on the previous 12 months and anticipate the year to come. What drove their market segments? What can the industry expect to see in the coming months?

Typically, we share these insights and predictions in a blog, but this year we decided that a podcast format is more fitting. Listen over the next few weeks as these market managers give us an insider’s look at the plastics industry.

Last year, M. Holland’s former Film and Flexible Packaging market manager, Frank LaRocque, predicted 2020 would be a year with a formidable set of challenges. And boy, was he right! Join us as Frank shares more about the resiliency, innovative thinking and adaptability he saw from customers in 2020, the growth COVID-19 drove for the market because of e-commerce sales, and what the market can expect in 2021, as large institutions in public spaces hopefully start to reopen.

Thanks for joining us. Frank, can you tell us a little bit about what you do with M. Holland?

Frank LaRocque:

I’m the director of sales for the resale division for U.S. and Canada. I’ve been with the M. Holland Company on and off for 11 years. I grew up in the film business. I started off in technical service. I’ve had positions in marketing and business development and sales. I am the last market manager for the M. Holland Company. So, I grew up in this business.

Host:

As you reflect on 2020, was there a key learning point from Film and Flex that stands out to you?

Frank LaRocque:

Well, 2020 was certainly a very interesting year. Despite everything that the market threw at us, from COVID to hurricanes, to force majeures, to explosive growth in the export markets, and overall material tightness. Our customers in the flexible packaging space have been resilient and adaptive and they continue to innovate, no matter what the market throws at them. And I think demand coming out of COVID will remain strong.

Host:

Was there a materials application that really won the year for you?

Frank LaRocque:

I think there’s a lot of material applications that won the year for us. You know, for 2020, this space was very strong for the M. Holland Company. When you think of PPE and medical draping, food packaging, and anything around e-commerce, really, it’s been a real opportunity for us, and growth for us and our suppliers.

I think medical and food packaging really changed the demand profile for our suppliers and our customer base. Around medical, the flexible space, a lot of draping and protective packaging for devices and just for safety and hygiene reasons. E-commerce and protective packaging space — when you think of pillow packs and bubble pack and any foam, you know, we’ve all been at home, for the most part of 2020. Walmart, Target, of course, Amazon. Anything you buy today shows up at your door and everything needs to be protected. And a lot of that is polyethylene packaging. Some of our customers have really seen incredible growth.

Then the whole food delivery service as well — all the packaging that goes around that. Those markets have been very, very proficient for us in 2020. And I think, you know, that e-commerce was coming, but COVID really accelerated it. Why go to a store anymore, if you don’t have to? You can do a couple of clicks and the next day, or a couple of days later, it shows up, and often it shows up with a package that you can return the item too. So, think of all the packaging that’s used in that space. We see customers in that space continuing to expand their businesses and add more equipment.

Host:

As we move from 2020 to 2021, what are you most excited about in the coming year from a Film and Flexible Packaging perspective?

Frank LaRocque:

Well, what I find most amazing and most exciting is despite the challenges that we face as a society and how the market has changed, our customers continue to add equipment. They continue to add footprint and expand their businesses and really continue to innovate. And we’re doing everything online, which is remarkable. So, I think our customers are adapting and able to continue to find new ways to grow and innovate.

You know, I think another big theme in the market in 2021 and beyond is regarding the circular economy and everything we need to do around sustainability. Post-consumer waste (PCR) is becoming a big topic. Our suppliers and our customers are trying to find more ways to incorporate that material, in even FDA applications. So, I think that will continue to be a big theme in 2021.

I think once COVID is behind us, what we’re excited is to see the revival of our customers who work in industrial and institutional markets. When you think of all the events and schools and offices and large public places that have been closed, some of the customers that are built around those two markets, industrial and institutional — they’re struggling. And we’re looking forward to having COVID behind us and having our economies back and our public spaces open up a little bit, so we can see those customers come back.

Host:

Thanks, Frank, for sharing all of those terrific insights, and thank you for listening. Continue to tune in to learn what 2020 meant and what 2021 will bring from markets including Healthcare, 3D Printing, Wire & Cable, Electrical & Electronics, Flexible Packaging, Rotational Molding, Color & Compounding, Automotive, and Sustainability. All episodes can be found on the News & Insights page on the M. Holland website. We’ll see you next time.

Featuring:

Frank LaRocque

Director, Resale Sales

M. Holland Frank LaRocque

Frank has over 20 years of experience in the plastics industry across a variety of disciplines, including sales and sales leadership, strategic planning, product management, and sourcing. As Director, Resale Sales for M. Holland, Frank focuses on expanding M. Holland’s market reach in all commodity polyolefin market segments and developing a leading-edge sales team to meet the needs of clients and supply partners. During his 14-year tenure with M. Holland, Frank has served in film application development, product management and sales leadership positions. Prior to joining M. Holland, Frank served as president and minority owner of Al-Pack Enterprises, a film manufacturer and packaging distributor, and began his career in technical service at Nova Chemicals. He has built strategic relationships throughout the supply community and greater plastics industry. Frank earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Waterloo.

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