For the past 19 years, we've asked raw material suppliers, converters, foodservice distributors and operators to share information that we compile into our State of the Industry report. We try to ask as few questions as possible so respondents can provide a true snapshot of what today's foodservice packaging industry looks like.
We send the survey out in the first quarter of the year to FPI members as well as non-members within the industry. This gives us an additional viewpoint, and gives non-member respondents an opportunity to view the full report. Plus, it gives us a look back at 2017 and ahead to 2018.
This year's report shows that it's business as usual. Like last year, things remain positive. More than two thirds of foodservice packaging manufacturers and suppliers experienced growth in volume, while more than 40 percent reported profit growth in 2017. This year, 84 percent of the industry expect volume expansion and 67 percent expect profit growth. Foodservice operators who responded also saw increased sales — a trend they expect to continue throughout 2018.
Optimism reigns supreme when looking at the industry. More than 60 percent of the North American manufacturers reported corporate expansion plans through construction of new facilities, expansion of current facilities, and mergers and acquisitions. Also like other years, more than 80 percent of North American converters plan to purchase machinery in 2018.
In yet another similarity to previous years, respondents continue to see the fast-casual and quick-service sectors with the biggest potential for market expansion. This is mostly because these establishments continue to be popular and have the ability to adapt to ever-evolving consumers with a variety of offerings — home delivery, e-commerce solutions and a quick food experience that’s not “fast food."
One more area where we heard similar responses to years past involves the challenges facing the industry. North American converter and supplier respondents had some varied opinions, but traditional business issues like labor and raw materials remained at the top of the list. This tells us that although the industry is concerned with increasing government regulations and legislation and environmental concerns, like end-of-life options for foodservice packaging, it's still a business. They can't be successful and sustain the growth within the industry if they don't have materials and labor.
We're looking forward to another good year for our industry. We love to see the continued growth and optimism while overcoming and adapting to new challenges!
A big thank you to everyone who participated this year! A copy of the report should be on its way to you. If you haven't participated before, but are eligible (raw material or machinery supplier, converter, foodservice operator or foodservice distributor), I highly encourage you to take part next year. We recognize the time commitment on your end, but also how much your information means to the survey results. If you'd like more information, or would like to be on our list for next year, shoot me an email