Riding high on the booming retail and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, the Indian packaging industry is expected to grow above 18 per cent in the next fiscal. "At present the Indian packaging industry is estimated at Rs 65,000 crore and is growing at 10 per cent," Sanjay Bhatia, managing director, Hindustan Tin Works Ltd, a leading can manufacturer, told Mail Today. "As the industry is very closely linked to the growth of pharma and food industries, which are doing very well, we expect it to grow above 18 per cent next year," Bhatia said. At present, metal packaging holds about eight per cent market share of the total packaging industry. Generally, metal packaging is used in the pharma, food and beverages industries. Growing consumption of beverages and packaged food has given this sector a major boost. The company, whose client list includes Nestle, PepsiCo, United Breweries, Reckitt Benckiser and Asian paints, said the growing consumer concern over packaging is forcing consumer goods companies to focus on the packaging of their products. "People are becoming more health conscious, there is a growing trend towards well-packed, branded products, rather than the loose and unpackaged formats. Today, even a common man is conscious about the food he consumes in dayto-day life," Bhatia said. This is the reason why FMCG companies put a lot of emphasis on the packaging - not just to ensure longer shelf life for their products but also as a marketing strategy. A lot of sales depend on the attractiveness of the can and companies are ready to invest in them. According to Bhatia, generally packaging of a product accounts for about 10-15 per cent of the overall cost of the product and as many companies are looking for cost cutting means, lots of firms are importing packaging products from India. "Also growing environmental concerns are attracting large number of clients. As these metal cans are 100 per cent recycled, many companies prefer it over the plastic ones," Bhatia said. At present the company is exporting flattened cans to about 21 countries. Bhatia feels that as the cost sensitivity grows among the foreign countries, this number will also grow in the future.