Pouches will make further inroads into rigid packaging applications in the US due to cost and performance advantages, according to the results of a new study from Freedonia looking at US demand for food containers.
In the Food Containers: Rigid & Flexible study, overall US demand for food containers is projected to increase 2.8 percent a year to more than 31 billion USD in 2020. A major trend driving this growth will include a general shift from rigid packaging formats to flexible containers. Also propelling gains is the perception, especially among younger consumers, of stand-up pouches as a more contemporary packaging format than cans, bottles and cartons. The growth in pouches will also slow the increase in bag demand.
Pouches, grouped with bags in the report’s findings, will be second only to plastic food containers in terms of annual growth from 2015 to 2020, registering a 3.2 percent growth rate to reach a value in 2020 around 13.5 billion USD. This is above the overall market growth rate, although less than reported from 2010 to 2015 when there was 3.8 percent annual growth. Plastic will grow at 4.1 percent to 2020, down from 5.7 percent from 2010 to 2015. Glass is the only category to register a higher annual growth rate from the previous five years to the next, rising from 0.5 percent to 1.4 percent.
Other overall market drivers are to be efforts to improve both the reality and optics of sustainability initiatives, and increased use of package revisions to reignite interest in sluggish product categories. In recent years, the number of package redesigns has grown substantially, according to Freedonia’s findings, while the number of new food products has slowed considerably. Additionally, novel packaging formats 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.
Among more mature segments, favorable graphics and the capability to improve microwave oven performance will support continued demand for paperboard food containers. Despite a loss of market share, 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. The study showed 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, and such foods are expected to further expand that share.
Freedonia analyst Mike Richardson said: ‘Although nearly every major packaging type can make a legitimate case for its environmental suitability, consumer perceptions often weigh more heavily into purchasing behavior than careful analysis of data from lifecycle sustainability assessments. For example, while rigid plastic, foam and molded pulp egg containers all offer environmental benefits, molded pulp is often considered the “greenest” option of the three.’