US demand to approach $28 billion in 2017
Food container demand in the US is expected to approach $28 billion in 2017. Advances will be driven by population and disposable income growth; consumer demand for foods offering a combination of convenience, quality, and value; and trends toward using 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, such as plastic cups and pouches, in an expanding range of applications. Such formats are increasingly chosen to meet consumer demand for food products offering convenience and portability.
Plastic containers and bags & pouches to see above average value growth
Plastic containers, and bags and pouches will experience the fastest growth among food container types, continuing to supplant paperboard, metal, and glass containers. Advances for plastic containers will be driven by advantages over glass, metal, and paperboard alternatives, along with processing improvements resulting in enhanced barrier and heat resistance properties. Additionally, while oil price increases will be more moderate than in the 2002-2012 period, faster price increases are expected for plastic food containers than for other food container materials, which will provide further momentum for plastic food containers.
Above average value growth for bags and pouches will be the result of cost and performance advantages that will enable continued inroads into rigid packaging applications. Moreover, inherent environmentally friendly characteristics of bags and pouches -- such as reduced material requirements and shipping costs compared to rigid containers -- will be key advantages, especially in light of the increasing prominence of sustainability factors in purchasing decisions by major retailers. A further factor that will propel gains for pouches, especially stand-up types, is the perception, especially among younger consumers, of pouches as a more contemporary packaging format than traditional container types, such as cans, bottles, and cartons.
Paperboard containers to lead gains among other types
Despite the maturity of a number of applications, prospects for paperboard containers will be helped by favorable graphics and sustainability qualities; enhancements such as higher wet strength and moisture resistance; and the capability to improve microwave oven performance in certain uses. Growth for aseptic cartons will significantly outpace that of other paperboard food containers as a result of expanding applications, often at the expense of metal cans and other rigid and flexible containers.
Continued unit declines are expected for metal cans due to market maturity, supplantation by alternative container types, and competition from fresh and frozen food alternatives. Nonetheless, cans will remain a sizeable and important segment of the food container mix based on their long shelf life, efficiency of production, economic advantages of canned items in controlling food expenditures, and ongoing demand for a number of canned items as cooking staples.
Glass container unit demand will continue to decline as a result of further inroads by plastic containers and pouches in traditional glass markets. Nonetheless, glass’ premium image and excellent barrier properties will support continued use in certain markets.