Greif’s distribution network analysis

The Whole Package: Greif’s Packaging Distribution Network Analysis

Greif is an undisputed worldwide leader in the packaging and storage solutions industry. Few companies can boast the track record of success, or the longevity, as Greif, with smart management, crafty leadership capitalizing on opportunities, and a culture that breeds success through simply doing the best job. Greif’s position is secure in large part because of these smart business decisions, having built up a robust and diverse portfolio over its storied history.

That portfolio has sustained Greif through over 140 years of economic change and challenges in the industry. Herein examine how the company’s distribution network keeps Greif on top of its industry while providing a foundation for ambitious future expansion. You can also read more about Greif’s entire successful business model here, and find additional information about the company on this page as well.

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From Local to Global: Greif’s Expansion

Greif began as a cooperage in Ohio (see the linked articles for more on the company’s history), but now it runs more than 290 facilities in over 40 countries worldwide. In its 140+ year history, Greif has expanded in a success story few contemporaries can rival. This global presence lends Greif’s operations a robustness that persists even in unfavorable market conditions, like the ones that they currently face overseas in rigid packaging solutions.

While the company’s origins are richly American, its growth over the years has positioned Greif expertly to provide its products and services to most major industrial countries. The company currently employs more than 17,000 employees between its facilities, a sizable workforce that grows with each acquisition Greif makes. The largest concentration of Greif’s facilities remains in the United States, with its European operations following second.

Overseas Challenges

Greif’s success overseas is all the more impressive considering the challenges that the company faces with market conditions overseas. The market is currently volatile, wracked by weakening prospects and a decreasing demand. These effects are especially pronounced for the rigid industrial packaging market segments, which makes up a substantial portion of Greif’s product catalogue. The areas most affected are Europe, as well as the United States and the Asia Pacific regions-the latter two affected most specifically by an ongoing American-Chinese trade war.

The result of the unstable market and the trade war has been volatility in currency exchange rates, combining with lower demand in Western Europe for the flexible containers.

Such challenges are to be expected for a global industry leader, and Greif has managed them with finesse. The acquisition of Caraustar Industries has been a balm for the damage inflicted by the market volatility, helping to ensure continued progress for Greif despite unfavorable conditions.

Bricks in the Foundation: Greif’s Partners and Acquisitions

The success Greif enjoys can be laid at the feet of timely and critical acquisitions, helping to build up its list of partners and resources. For one strong example, buying Caraustar Industries and its paper packaging production (as noted above) has helped bolster Greif’s operations overseas in regions troubled by trade wars and market volatility. Combining these acquisitions with extremely focused leadership and efficient management, made all the more impressive by the size of the company, gives Greif the edge to be an industry leader.

In 2020, Greif’s partnerships provide it with an exceptionally strong foundation across a range of industries. Innovative products and techniques shared across the brands and branches lend Greif a sense of potential that many stock analysts are touting as leading to a significant increase in Greif’s value by the end of the fiscal year.

Here are a few of the major partners that help buoy Greif above-market challenges and into the future:


Soterra is Greif’s timberland management company. Operating in the United States and Canada, Soterra offers forestry management services, hunting leases, wildlife, and recreational land usage management. Because of Soterra’s dedicated regenerative practices, the company has earned recognition for its commitments to pollinator and plant and food production. Soterra, like Greif’s other branches, continually seeks to improve its practices, especially when it comes to long-term environmental sustainability.

Caraustar Industries

The focus of much discussion, Greif recently acquired Caraustar Industries and its paper packaging operations. Caraustar had been facing challenges before its acquisition, and now as Greif completes integration of Caraustar’s operations into its own, Greif is even better poised to deal with worldwide market demands and difficulties. The overseas market volatility has not yet greatly impacted Greif’s value in a negative way in part because of this acquisition.

Caraustar also operated a variety of recycling facilities in the United States, further enhancing Greif’s already impressive environmentally-conscious operations.


Greif’s other environmentally-oriented segment is EarthMinded, The EarthMinded group provides the company’s diverse array of environmental sustainability services. From reconditioning and a variety of recycling services, EarthMinded provides pick-up and intelligent reuse of raw materials. Here are some examples of the services EarthMinded provides:

  • Reconditioned Products: EarthMinded will recondition, remanufacture, and redistribute industrial packaging that the company collects. IBC products, both rigid and flexible, as well as plastics and steel packaging components, can also be given new life through EarthMinded’s Life Cycle Services. The company sells these refurbished products at a discount while also reducing waste and the environmental impact of its disposal.
  • Ecotrack: One unique benefit that EarthMinded offers its customers is the ability to directly see the reduced environmental impact of materials collected and reused by EarthMinded’s services. The Ecotrack program sends reports directly to customers by which they can document their sustainability achievements.

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International Presence: Greif’s Industrial Reach

An exhaustive list of Greif resellers goes beyond the scope of this article, but the company’s presence across a range of industries offers a positive look at its global reach. As a worldwide leader in the industrial packaging industry, Greif’s products touch nearly every conceivable business need and find their way to almost every corner of the world. With a distribution network that serves more than 40 countries, including shipping to regions outside those countries, Greif’s reach is one of the strengths keeping the company’s value strong today.


One of the largest industries Greif’s products serve is that of industrial chemicals. Hundreds of companies use Greif IBCs, drums, and jerrycans to store and transport their materials. Chemical-based industries are the most at-risk when it comes to environmental challenges, both to the business itself and to the world’s natural resources. Greif’s innovative offerings and leadership focused on responsible sustainability practices help reduce the risks across this industry.


A subset of the chemical industry, agrochemicals deals with important agricultural resources like fertilizers and pesticides-though a growing trend favoring more natural and sustainable resources means that less harsh solutions are preferred. Greif leads the charge here in two ways: providing some of the most innovative and environmentally-friendly storage options, while simultaneously devoting resources toward better sustainability practices.

Construction Projects

Greif’s facilities produce a wide variety of storage and packaging solutions for construction projects-even more so with the acquisition of Caraustar’s paperboard packaging operations. Thick concrete forming tubes and void-spacers are used in creating cement columns and level materials with voids for construction piping, wiring, and plumbing.

Food and Beverage

One of Greif’s most important industries is food and beverage, with its highly diverse needs for storage and safe shipping. Greif’s plastics come in many forms: food safety-compliant bulk containers (including some designed to protect the contents from gas permeation), flexible “big bags” meant to hold vast quantities of dry goods, and drums and jugs meant to supply water. These products do more than simply hold the food and beverage materials, but are designed to safely store them against the hazards of the elements and of transporting them.

Consumer Industries

The need for packaging in consumer industries can’t be overstated. While Greif’s products tend to serve larger industrial needs, rather than individual retail packages, the company’s IBCs, shipping solutions, and variety of container- and paperboard products see use across all consumer industries. Adhesives, board packaging, specialty corrugated container products, all are in constant demand across the world.

Greif offers more than just industrial retail packaging, however. Their packaging solutions operations can help customers design and create custom packaging, from structural design, aesthetic implementation, and pre-press options to full-on production. Greif’s offerings also include custom set-up boxes and wraps for specialized product treatment.

Container Accessories

Greif produces a line of woven container liners, meant for the safe transportation of dry bulk products in heavy shipping containers. Their “big bags” are also used for these and a variety of other applications, transporting large quantities of sand, stone, gravel, grain, seed, fertilizer, and other agricultural and construction materials.

Protective materials are a must for the safe transportation of certain goods, especially paper and other rolled or tubular goods for use in construction and retail applications. Greif manufactures protective sleeves, roll wraps, and flexible straps, boards, and wraps, aimed at stabilizing goods during shipping and reducing transport-related damages.

Specialty Products

Greif manufactures a variety of specialty products, such as convolute-wound tubes available in a variety of non-standard shapes. These are used for furniture support during transportation and customized to fit non-round forms. Packaging cores serve paper industries as tubes within the center of large rolls, label and tape dispensers, and items such as wrapping paper, textile rolls, and roofing materials. These types of supportive inserts are also used in turf rolls for sod and large-scale agricultural demands.

Built to Demand, Built to Last

Greif’s distribution network supplies companies across both regional and industrial divides. With its custom offerings, if Greif doesn’t have something already in its product catalogue, chances are the company can help design it. By innovating in its products, such as the award-winning DoubleGreen jerrycan, Greif stays at the top of the packaging industry while helping foster growth even during periods of economic uncertainty.

The Greif Way provides quality packaging and shipping solutions worldwide with an eye toward sustainability. For over 140 years the company has remained an industry leader because of the values that carry through into every product and custom work Greif commits.

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