‘Sustainable and premium’: Sharp rise in demand for glass packaging from Chinese ‘masstige’ market

By Lynda Serby

- Last updated on GMT

SGD Pharma has plans to increase the capacity of its Zhanjiang plant in China by 15% on the back of “explosive” demand for glass packaging. [Getty Images]
SGD Pharma has plans to increase the capacity of its Zhanjiang plant in China by 15% on the back of “explosive” demand for glass packaging. [Getty Images]

Related tags: Glass, Packaging

Glass packaging supplier SGD Pharma has plans to increase the capacity of its Zhanjiang plant in China by 15% on the back of “explosive” demand at home and an aggressive expansion strategy in the Americas.

CosmeticsDesign-Asia caught up with SGD Pharma’s General Manager China and Asia Pacific Frédéric Barbier, to find out more about the firm’s plans for APAC and his views on the trends shaping the region’s cosmetic glass packaging market.

Every decade or so SGD Pharma refurbishes its 85,000 m2 Zhanjiang plant, where it produces over 1.2 million glass vials daily for the global and local pharmaceutical and beauty markets. The next upgrade, in 2024, will see the company increasing capacity by a further 15% and building greater flexibility into its production.

“This plant produces packaging for both pharmaceutical and beauty industry customers. At present, the six lines in the plant are dedicated to one or the other. The idea with building more flexibility into our operation is that if we have an upturn in demand for beauty packaging, we can transfer our pharmaceutical production to another SGD Pharma plant and use all of our lines in Zhanjiang for cosmetics jobs,”​ explained Barbier.

He said that although 2022 got off to a challenging start as a result of several Covid lockdowns, that didn’t alter the long-term upwards trajectory the Chinese glass packaging market was on.

“The Chinese market for glass cosmetics packaging has exploded in recent years; we’ve experienced double-digit growth in this market year on year for the last five years. The main drivers are the growing Chinese middle class and the rise of China’s supercities. A few years ago, cosmetics were the preserve of consumers in tier 1 cities; now consumers in tier 2, 3 and 4 cities are using them,” ​explained Barbier.

Glassification: it’s a class thing

At the same time, he said consumers in China were becoming more discerning, driving a trend towards ‘glassification’.

“More brands are switching from plastic to glass packaging primarily due to its sustainability credentials and premium image, as well as its superior compatibility with various formulations,” ​said Barbier.

Restrictions on international travel in the last couple of years have also contributed to the rising demand for glass cosmetics packaging in China, according to Barbier.

“The Chinese were the biggest consumers of cosmetics in travel - buying in London, Paris, Singapore and cities around the world. Now that people are no longer travelling outside of China they are still buying the same products but within China,” ​he said.

Barbier said this had prompted international companies to relocate their production to China to service this demand. 

Class for the mass

All of these factors were contributing to a positive outlook for SGD’s business in manufacturing glass containers for the ‘masstige’ cosmetics market, he said.

“We are not in the luxury perfume market - most of those products are filled in Europe - and nor are we in the high volume, low-quality market. We are in the ‘masstige’ part of the market, servicing local companies as well as international companies with Chinese operations,” ​he explained.

The company’s stock range of glass packaging includes the Constellations collection, which offers solutions of different sizes for a variety of beauty products, including skincare, nutraceuticals and beauty creams.

Beyond China

Cosmetics containers produced in SGD Pharma’s Zhanjiang plant are sold in 15 countries in the APAC region, with Japan the company’s largest market after China.

“China, Japan and South Korea are the three major filling geographies in the region and it makes sense for our business to follow that demand. There is less demand in other Asian countries simply because there is less filling for masstige finished products. There are some plants in Indonesia but there isn’t the volume to justify a presence there for us.”

As well as responding to growing demand from the Chinese market, increased capacity at Zhanjiang would support SDG Pharma’s global expansion ambitions, said Barbier.

The company’s appointment of Sheherazade Chamlou as its New York-based Vice President of Sales Beauty Americas last month underpinned its global growth strategy.

SGD said that Chamlou would be “leveraging SGD Pharma’s presence in the US, Europe and Asia to grow the global beauty division”​ and “developing global propositions for leading luxury cosmetics and beauty brands”​.

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