COVID-19 Pandemic Still Impacting the Industry

Another year, another pandemic-inspired Trends Report. And what a year it has been!

If you’re an FPI member, or have been following along over the past 13 years, you’ll know that each year we collect opinions from companies throughout the foodservice packaging supply chain, including raw material and machinery suppliers, packaging manufacturers, distributors and operators. We take those insights and direct comments and compile them into a lengthy report. Then, we provide analysis based on those submissions, as well as our own general industry observations.

We look forward to this survey because it gives us a chance to confirm the trends we think we see in the marketplace throughout the year. This year’s 2021 Trends Report was no different than last year’s in that industry opinions are largely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact throughout the entire supply chain.

Respondents said they’re focused on COVID-19 concerns, showing us that cost, supply, logistical and labor challenges have exceeded the predictions of the past year, along with a large focus on delivery and curbside pick-up.

Unsurprisingly, the survey reveals a major trend of increased business costs. Whether due to logistics, labor shortages, supplier disruptions, rising inflation or all of the above, the continued volatility associated with costs and pricing have affected the entire value chain.

Transportation issues abound, from the importing of materials and packaging, to driver shortages and long wait times, while labor shortages have impacted the availability of materials and products — including raw materials, machinery, foodservice packaging or the food items being served in those packages. These shortages are not expected to rebound in the foreseeable future.

But, not all pandemic influences have been bad! This year’s survey also highlights the prevalence of technology in the foodservice arena, something that was accelerated by the fast-changing needs of the industry. There’s new technology specifically for the delivery and takeout space; meals may be delivered over the counter to a customer in minutes, travel in a car, robot or drone for 30 minutes, or sit in a heated or cooled locker for an extended period of time.

One trend that continues to appear year over year is the resiliency of the foodservice packaging industry. We continue to navigate the ongoing effects of the pandemic as only we can — overcoming challenges while evolving to meet the needs of foodservice operators and their customers.

FPI members can download the full report from FPI’s website. An Executive Summary of the report can be found here.

COVID-19 Pandemic Continues to Impact Foodservice Packaging Industry

The Foodservice Packaging Institute’s 13th annual Trends Report shows that industry opinions remain focused on COVID-19 concerns showing that cost, supply, logistical and labor challenges have exceeded the predictions of the past year, along with a large focus on delivery and curbside pick-up.

“We continue to navigate these ongoing effects of the pandemic as only the foodservice packaging industry can,” said Natha Dempsey, president of FPI. “Despite the challenge of rising costs across the board, we’ve proven through these difficult times that our industry is ever-evolving to meet the needs of foodservice operators and their customers — pandemic or not.”

Respondents reveal a major trend is increased business costs. Whether due to logistics, labor shortages, supplier disruptions, rising inflation or all of the above, the continued volatility associated with costs and pricing have affected the entire value chain. Transportation issues ranging from the importing of materials and packaging, to driver shortages and long wait times are commonplace. The availability of materials and products — including raw materials, machinery, foodservice packaging or the food items being served in those packages — have all been held up at one point or another by labor shortages. These shortages are expected to remain for the foreseeable future.

The survey highlights the prevalence of technology in the foodservice arena. There’s new technology specifically for the delivery and takeout space; meals may be delivered over the counter to a customer in minutes, travel in a car, robot or drone for 30 minutes, or it may sit in a heated or cooled locker for an extended period of time.

“Foodservice packaging plays a central role in delivering quality products to customers, especially as more channels involve less human interaction. The package sometimes becomes one of, if not the first and only interaction a customer may have with a particular brand, making it even more important that it has the ability to perform across a number of applications while fulfilling a variety of needs,” Dempsey said.

For 13 years, the Trends Report is FPI’s reflection on the latest industry happenings. The FPI survey collected opinions from companies throughout the foodservice packaging supply chain, including raw material and machinery suppliers, packaging manufacturers, distributors and operators.

The first section of the report compiles direct comments and insights by industry respondents. The second section provides high-level trends in the foodservice packaging industry based on FPI staff analysis of member submissions, as well as FPI’s general industry observations.

The Foodservice Packaging Institute’s 2021 Trends Report is available only to FPI members. Non-members may view an executive summary online on FPI’s website. Please contact Ashley Elzinga at aelzinga@fpi.org for more information.