IDTechEx discussed RFID in 2021

What to Expect for the Future

Author Dr Yu-Han Chang , technology analyst at Idtechex.

Despite a 5 per cent drop in the global RFID market in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the impact of Covid-19, the market has recovered well in 2021. According to the newly released RFID market research report from IDTechEx, “RFID Forecasts, Players, and Opportunities 2022-2032“, the global RFID market is estimated to be valued at $11.6 billion (INR 1160 crore) in 2021, rising to $12.2 billion (INR 1220 crore) in 2022. This market comprises RFID labels, cards, fobs, and any other form factors, as well as tags, readers, and software/services for both passive and active RFID.

Covid-19 has had a detrimental influence on many aspects of our lives, yet, Covid-19 also speeds up the digital transition. In the UHF sector, for example, IDTechEx has observed the retail apparel business, the largest RFID application sector in terms of tag numbers, adopting RFID at a quicker rate. According to IDTechEx, retail apparel alone will require over 20 billion (INR 2000 crore) RFID labels in 2022 – albeit there is still some way to go, with RFID accounting for just roughly 26 per cent of the entire addressable market for apparel in 2022.
Despite the retail apparel industry’s success, there are also plenty of other industries that are gaining traction. Other retail sectors besides apparel, such as footwear, cosmetics, fragrance, electronics, and supply chain and logistics, as well as the food industry, such as quick-service-restaurant, have also received solid interest and investment. In the HF sector, contactless card sales remain the strongest, driven mostly by contactless payment, transportation, and secure access applications, with 2.6 billion cards demanded in 2021.
IDTechEx predicts that this trend will continue in the short-to-medium term. In the LF sector, animal tagging (such as pigs, lambs, and pets) continues to be significant since it is still a legal obligation in many more regions, with 640 million tags being used in this sector in 2021. According to IDTechEx’s “RFID Forecasts, Players, and Opportunities 2022-2032” report, a total of 28.4 billion passive RFID tags will be sold in 2021, up from 23.8 billion in 2020, representing a double-digit growth rate. Most of such expansion is due to passive UHF RFID labels. However, in 2021, UHF (RAIN RFID) tag sales by value will be just 30% of HF tag sales (including NFC), owing to the higher price point of HF tags used for security (such as payments, access, etc.) against the cheaper, largely disposable UHF (RAIN) tags used for tagging items.


RFID new promo figure.

Although the RFID industry continues to expand, there are still obstacles to overcome, particularly in certain markets. Chip shortages will be a problem in the immediate term. We’ve begun to see that the chip shortage is causing supply to fall short of demand, resulting in price increases. On the other hand, “Education” and “Standardization” will be the two most important issues to address in order to achieve widespread RFID adoption in the mid to long term. Educating businesses about the capabilities of RFID (including its advantages and limitations) and how a business can implement RFID to improve their corporate efficiency is important. In terms of standardization, take the pharmaceutical industry and the food industry as an example, the big market opportunities in these two industries arise in “item-level” lagging; however, this is unlikely to happen until the government mandate is in place.


IDTechEx has studied the RFID market for almost 20 years. Our latest version of the RFID market research report, “RFID Forecasts, Players and Opportunities 2022-2032”, provides a comprehensive overview covering passive RFID (for UHF, HF, and LF frequencies), battery-assisted passive, active RFID, and chipless RFID technologies, players, and markets. This report presents an unbiased analysis of primary data gathered through our interview with key players throughout the value chain (many of whom supply data to us under non-disclosure agreements that allow us to aggregate the data into a total) as well as secondary data from all available sources, and it builds on our expertise in the RFID industry. This report gives extensive forecasts and depth that no other source can match.


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