Analysts: Global RFID Market Approaching $8B

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The global radio frequency identification (RFID) sector will reach $7.88 billion in 2013, up from last year’s $6.98 billion due to the diverse nature of the technology’s applications, according to IDTechEx Research.

The report, “RFID Forecasts, Players & Opportunities 2014-2024,” predicts the RFID market will reach $23.4 billion in 2020. The market, which includes tags, readers and software for passive and active RFID, has continued to grow despite global recessionary conditions. The research firm credits governments for this growth, as the sector has driven most RFID orders to improve transit systems, passport and animal tagging.

Since 2000, there has been a strong push to use passive RFID to improve supply chain visibility, with a wide range of investment in new RFID technologies, new standards and publicity. However, many over hyped aspects of the technology and the demand for RFID was not in accord with capacity during that period. In 2010, the industry emerged from the propaganda cycle and has recently entered a period of rapid growth and profitability. According to the research firm, the sector will sell 5.9 billion tags in 2013 compared to 4.8 billion in 2012.

Passive ultra-high frequency (UHF) systems experienced an uptick in the last five years, due to retail apparel, which will globally demand 2.25 billion RFID labels in 2013, according to the report. Following apparel tagging, passive UHF is deployed in many different application areas for asset tracking and other applications. Although they are small volumes, the applications add up to hundreds of millions of tags per year given the strong payback they give users.

Despite passive UHF selling more tags than passive high frequency (HF) for the first time in 2012, users will spend $247 million on UHF tags. On the other hand, end users will spend $2.15 billion on HF and $713 million on low frequency (LF) RFID, according to the report. The higher value of HF and LF is due to a variety of RFID tags in high value applications including animal tagging, contactless smart cards and passports. The size of the market of HF tags will continue to be larger than the UHF tag market over the next decade, by money but not volume, according to IDTechEx.

In a sector approaching $8 billion, not one of the 800 RFID solutions providers are close to becoming a $1 billion leader. Only eight manufacturers have revenues of more than $100 million, and less than 20 have sales between $20 million to $100 million, according to the report. The research firm also noted that most of the top eight providers offer complete solutions.

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