The flexible packaging market is projected to be worth more than $71 billion, according to a new report by Pira International.

The study, “The Future of Global Flexible Packaging to 2016,” from Pira International, Portland, Maine, analyzes the growth of the flexible packaging sector, finding that it has been driven by its use in replacing traditional packaging materials such as metal cans, glass and plastic bottles and paperboard cartons across a wide range of end uses.

The corporate sector is also noticing a shift with the fragmented nature of the market becoming more consolidated. Future growth of industry players is more likely to be through acquisition instead of organic growth, the U.K.-based consultancy reports.

“Brand owners value flexible packaging for its versatility, comparative low cost and potential for innovation,” says Adam Page, Pira’s head of reports. “It is also a lighter-weight pack format, a key attribute given the growing importance being attached to carbon footprint analysis and the environmental impact of packaging.”

The report also highlights down-gauging of flexible packaging as a new trend, given that escalating polymer prices are spurring customer demands for thinner films.