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US Food Containers: Rigid & Flexible

  • February 2016
  • 391 pages
  • Freedonia
Report ID: 3713487


Table of Contents

Study coverage

This report presents historical demand data (2005, 2010 and 2015) plus forecasts (2020 and 2025) by market and product. The study also considers market environment factors, assesses the industry structure, evaluates company market share and profiles 32 US industry players.

Changing consumer behavior to drive demand

Demand for food containers in the US is projected to exceed $31 billion in 2020. Overall growth will be fairly modest, and generally in line with moderate growth in domestic food production. However, below this topline total, a variety of trends are reshaping the food container market, primarily shifting consumer preferences, both in terms of food products and the materials in which they are packaged. In addition, novel formats of packaging continue to emerge, such as clear plastic cans designed to directly compete with traditional metal cans, and squeezable spouted pouches for mayonnaise and sour cream.

Health foods, sustainability issues to be key factors

Food products perceived as healthful, such as yogurt and nuts, will register strong advances through 2020, boosting demand for related packaging like plastic tubs, cups, and jars, as well as pouches. Greater awareness of environmental and sustainability issues will shift the food packaging mix. Although nearly every key packaging type can make a legitimate case for its environmental suitability, sometimes consumer perceptions weigh more heavily into purchasing behavior than empirical data. For example, while rigid plastic, foam, and molded pulp egg containers all offer some environmental benefits, molded pulp is often seen as the “greenest” option of the three. Additionally, growth for food contai ners will be fueled by heightened demand for foods offering a combination of convenience, quality, and value, and thus the usage of value added packaging that provides enhanced freshness protection and convenience of use. Unit expansion will be aided by the growing popularity of single serving packaging, including plastic cups and pouches, in an expanding range of applications. Such packaging is particularly attractive to consumers seeking portable food options to be eaten in the car or at work.

Pouches, plastic containers to grow the fastest

Pouches and plastic containers will post above-average growth, the result of further supplantation of paperboard, metal, and glass containers. Plastic container gains will be driven by advantages of light weight, clarity, and shatter resistance, along with the increased presence of containers with enhanced barrier and heat resistance properties. Competition from flexible packaging such as pouches, which provide greater source reduction capability as well as reduced shipping costs, will moderate advances somewhat. Pouches will make further inroads into rigid packaging applications due to cost and performance advantages. The perception, especially among younger consumers, of stand-up pouches as a more contemporary packaging format than cans, bottles, and cartons will also propel gains.

Bag demand will rise more slowly due to maturity of many applications as well as competition from pouches. Among more mature segments, favorable graphics and the capability to improve microwave oven performance in certain uses will support continued demand for paperboard food containers. Despite unit stagnation, metal cans will remain an important segment of the food container mix due to their long shelf life and positioning as a means of controlling food expenditures. Prospects for glass containers will be aided by a premium image along with their use for natural and organic products, which occupy a larger share of the food landscape than they once did.

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