The next time you walk the aisles of your local grocery store, look at the food. Like, really look at the food. Check out the packaging, read through the ingredients, understand the company’s messaging. Then, when you get home and prepare that food, look at it again. Touch it, taste it, smell it. Because most likely that food was developed with a compressor somewhere on the manufacturing line. 

Most food processing and packaging operations require compressed air to wrap, package, palletize and label products before shipment. And, as the food and beverage market continues to grow, so too does the demand for compressed air.

The global air compressors market is projected to reach $38.9 billion by 2021, according to a report published by Technavio, Elmhurst, Ill. Factors such as mergers and acquisitions, the introduction of next-generation air compressors and an increased focus on energy security are driving growth, the report says.

Another study states that the use of data analytics to increase plant efficiency, increased application of Internet of Things (IoT) in compressor control systems and implementation of widescreen PLC-HMI devices are the key drivers of growth in the compressors market. That’s because most of the components used in compressor control systems contain data logging features, and connected compressors greatly increase the efficiency of a plant by capturing and improving communication capabilities.

“Many companies are using data analytics to understand trends, [are] analyzing patterns and choosing analytical models to improve their plant efficiency, and this is expected to boost the adoption of compressor control systems,” says Bharath Kanniappan, lead analyst at Technavio.

The global oil-free air compressors market in particular is expected to reach $15.2 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc., San Francisco. Key findings show portable oil-free air compressors emerged as a dominant segment in 2015, a trend anticipated to continue toward the end of the forecast period. 

And, centrifugal oil-free air compressors are expected to witness rapid growth through 2025 thanks to their ability to reduce carbon footprint and ensure clean and reliable air supply. Asia Pacific is expected to emerge as the fastest growing region with a CAGR exceeding 4% over the forecast period, mainly on account of rapid industrialization and expanding manufacturing sector.

“Air Compressor by Type, Technology, Lubrication Method, Power Rating and End-user Industry: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2014-2023,” a report published by Allied Market Research, Portland, Ore., valued the air compressor market at $19,798.56 million in 2016, with a projected reach of $26,850.35 million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 4.47% from 2014 to 2023. The increase in adoption of energy efficient and robust air compressors across different industry verticals, the increase in demand from the end-user industries such as food and beverage and the utilization of high technical expertise, R&D and accessories for enhancing efficiency continue to drive demand for the air compressor market during the forecast period. 

Asia-Pacific again accounted for the major share of the global air compressor market in food and beverage in 2016. Meanwhile, Germany and France are the major shareholder in the market, accounting for more than half of the market share.

In 2016, the rotary technology type accounted for the maximum revenue, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 4.50% during the forecast period, while the centrifugal segment accounted for around 24.19% in the air compressor market.

As technology continues to improve and food and beverage processors evolve, one thing is certain—there will always be a need for air compressors on the manufacturing plant floor.