Foodservice Single-Use Products
The US market for foodservice packaging and serviceware continues to face unprecedented disruption, with the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability initiatives, and longer running market trends all combining to escalate changes in market size, product formats, and materials.
Demand for foodservice single-use products is forecast to grow 3.8% annually to $33.2 billion in 2027. However, this growth rate hides several opposing underlying trends:
- Growth in individual product prices will moderate – or even decline – from inflation-driven highs in 2021 and 2022, but this will be offset by a shift in the product mix toward higher value materials and packaging formats.
- Real growth will be supported by continued recovery in the restaurant industry and key noncommercial foodservice markets such as sports and entertainment venues and catering. Demand will be further boosted by the popularity of takeout and delivery, especially from full-service establishments that have historically not been large users of disposables.
- Growth in units will be restrained by sustainability-driven efforts to reduce or eliminate excess packaging and serviceware use.
Sustainability Drives Market Value Growth & Materials Evolution But Limits Unit Gains
The foodservice industry historically considered the environmental impact of its packaging use, but cost and performance often were more important factors in purchasing decisions.
However, over the past decade sustainability has become the leading factor for choosing single-use products, especially for high-profile national chains. This has resulted in:
- a strong push toward using higher priced alternatives – such as paper, molded fiber, and bioplastics – to conventional plastics
- efforts to eliminate certain types of disposables altogether, including small plastics (such as straws and stirrers) and products made from plastic foam
Search for the Perfect Material Continues; All Materials Have Pros & Cons
Foodservice companies and their suppliers continue to search for the ideal packaging material, a product that offers good sustainability and performance at a low price. While conventional plastics continue to dominate sales due to their low cost and good performance (and a growing focus on recycled content), the fastest industry growth is expected in newer materials such as molded sugarcane and PHA bioplastics. These new materials offer good performance, sustainability, and increasingly competitive pricing.
Carryout & Off-Premises Dining Continues at High Levels
Limited service restaurants have long had a strong takeout business, but over the past decade there has been a marked shift in focus for all restaurants – including full-service establishments – to off-premise sales, either through drive-thru, curbside, or delivery operations. Shifts away from dining inside restaurants are significantly expanding the number of disposables needed per order, leading to the development of improved products designed to deliver food safely while retaining its quality and presentation.
This study examines the US market for foodservice disposable packaging, defined as packaging used by foodservice locations to serve and package food, and meant to be disposed of. Serviceware – such as dinnerware, cutlery, straws, and napkins – is also covered. Historical data are provided for 2012, 2017, and 2022, with forecasts through 2027. Annual data is provided for 2018-2026. Also provided is an analysis of key industry players.