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.