The paper plate is the first foodservice packaging item introduced in the U.S.
Foodservice packaging primarily includes single-use products such as cups (beverage and portion), plates, platters, bowls, trays, beverage carriers, bags (single portion and carry-out), containers, lids and domes, wraps, straws, cutlery and utensils for the service and/or packaging of prepared foods and beverages in foodservice establishments.
Other related products such as placemats, doilies and tray covers; trays used in packaging raw meat, poultry, seafood, produce, and other food products; and egg packaging are also included. Foodservice packaging is sanitary, cost-effective, safe, convenient, resource-efficient and promotional. The industry and its association has a long history. This interactive timeline below highlights the last 80-plus years.
Foodservice Packaging: A Historical Timeline
Dr. Samuel Crumbine campaigns to ban the use of common drinking cups after seeing a healthy six-year old girl sip from a train’s cup immediately after a tuberculosis patient.
Two entrepreneurs construct a simple disposable cup to prevent the spread of infection and disease. This “Health Kup” creates a solution to Dr. Crumbine’s dilemma.
Kansas passes the first law banning common drinking cups in public places. Within one year, 24 states followed. Today, the federal government prohibits common drinking cups for sanitary reasons.
Spurred by single-use cups, other foodservice packaging items such as bowls, wooden cutlery and paper food wraps are commercialized.
Three companies form The Cup and Container Institute.
The Institute appends name to the Paper Cup and Container Institute, known as PCCL.
Foodservice products become invaluable in nourishing laborers working in remote areas for the Works Progress Administration, as well as in airplane and weapons manufacturing plants.
The first aluminum foil container is produced.
PCCI absorbs two struggling associations, the Paper Plate Association and the Linen & Lace Paper Institute.
The first foam polystyrene food container is developed.
Continued growth brings a new name, the Plate, Cup and Container Institute.
Membership is open to plastic and foil packaging manufacturers.
Reorganization occurs due to tough economic times, the acquisition of the Food Tray and Board Association, and another name change to the Single Serve Institute, known as SSI.
SSI absorbs the Egg Packaging Association, creating a new product-specific division.
SSI rebrands to the Foodservice and Packaging Institute. The ampersand is eventually removed from the name.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards FPI with the Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for brokering the industry’s removal of chlorofluorocarbons.
Two new materials are introduced to the foodservice packaging industry: biopolymers (biobased plastics) and bagasse (a fibrous material from sugarcane).
FPI holds its first joint meeting with the European Foodservice and Packaging Association (now known as 360° Foodservice).
FPI partners with QSR magazine to offer a competition that highlights innovations in foodservice packaging. This competition continues today.
FPI invites foodservice operators, distributers and group purchasing organizations to join the association at no cost.
The Paper Recovery Alliance launches as a self-funded group within FPI. The Plastics Recovery Group is established soon after, followed by the Foam Recycling Coalition and the Paper Cup Alliance.
FPI joins the social media realm, launching a blog and creating a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
FPI continues to advocate for the interests of the foodservice packaging industry in North America. Foodservice remains the safest and most reliable way to protect public health.