US Molded Fiber Packaging
The US market for molded fiber packaging continues to see strong growth attributable to an increased focus on sustainability initiatives, technological improvements, new product introductions, and longer-running market trends all combining to increase market size and breadth.
Demand for molded fiber packaging is forecast to rise 7.9% annually to $3.0 billion in 2027, with real growth of 8.2% yearly to 2.46 billion units. Gains will be supported by multiple factors:
- Molded fiber will continue to benefit from its image of sustainability, being recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, and increasingly made from agricultural waste.
- Performance and aesthetic improvements will boost demand, particularly for packaging of higher end products such as cosmetics and electronics.
- Developments in coatings and additives will increases the number of applications for molded fiber, including high-temperature and oily products.
- Advances in manufacturing and tooling processes will continue to lower the cost of molded fiber production, especially for those sourced from alternative fibers.
- New products are being introduced to the market, such as molded fiber beverage bottles.
Molded Fiber Continues to Take Share from Conventional Plastic- & Paper-Based Packaging
Owing to its favorable sustainability profile and increasing cost competitiveness, molded fiber packaging is expected to keep taking share from conventional plastic and foam iterations. In addition to being recyclable, molded fiber is compostable and biodegradable. It is also increasingly made of nonwood fiber sources that enhance its sustainability profile.
Nonwood Fibers Expected to See Especially Strong Growth Due to Increasing Availability
Though molded wood pulp products are expected to see strong growth going forward, products sourced from alternative fibers – including sugarcane, wheat straw, bamboo, and various grasses – are expected to see the largest gains due their superior renewability and image of sustainability, as they are not sourced from trees – as well as improved aesthetics and increasing cost competitiveness. Wheat straw, for example, is often chosen for its darker shade compared to other materials. Recent manufacturing advances allow these fibers to be molded into wider varieties of shapes and forms, increasing the number of applications in which they can be used.
Foodservice Molded Fiber Products to Continue to Post Largest Gains
Foodservice is by far the largest market for molded fiber packaging and serviceware. Over the past decade, sustainability has become increasingly important for both high-profile foodservice outlets and smaller restaurants wishing to appeal to younger clientele. Gains will benefit from continued growth of existing molded fiber products – including dinnerware, clamshells, and two-piece containers – and the penetration of new ones like cups, lids, and cutlery. Gains will also be supported by improvements in coatings and additives used with molded fiber packaging, thereby allowing use with a wider variety of foods and beverages. Local bans on EPS packaging and restaurants’ continued focus on delivery and carryout services, which are more packaging intensive, will both support growth.
This study examines the US market for molded fiber packaging, which is defined as rigid packaging formed from fibrous materials using wet or dry processes. Nonpackaging products – such as nursery pots and bedpans – are also covered. Historical data are provided for 2012, 2017, and 2022, with forecasts through 2032. Annual data is provided for 2018-2026. Also provided is an analysis of key industry players.