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Consumer Climate Dictates Industry Developments, According to Latest Foodservice Packaging Study
Released 10/29/2019

The 11th annual Trends Report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute revealed that industry opinions are largely focused on sustainable packaging and customization of products to meet consumer demand.

"Trends in 2019 focused on sustainability and the need for tamper-evident or tamper-resistant packaging — much of which is consumer driven," said Natha Dempsey, FPI’s vice president. "And while the 'paper or plastic' debate continues, 'recyclable or compostable' is the newer — and perhaps more important — question being asked."

When it comes to foodservice packaging materials, respondents say that there is growing interest in paper and fiber, deemed by some to be more "sustainable." They cite the general pushback on plastics, which has meant a shift back to paper in categories such as cups, food containers, carryout bags and straws.

Respondents say plastic is still a large part of the industry due to its myriad benefits. However, shifts continue within resin types. PET and polypropylene have grown in market share, and there is increased interest in bio-based and "biodegradable" resins that may be seen as more sustainable to customers.

One additional trend noted by respondents is the increased interest in and new legislation requiring the use of reusables instead of single-use foodservice packaging. In other parts of the foodservice packaging supply chain, respondents noted similar trends to those from previous Trends Reports:

  • For a second year in a row, delivery was top of mind in the foodservice operator community. Increased use of delivery as an option to get prepared meals to consumers continues to drive the need for particularly tamper-evident or tamper-resistant packaging.
  • Foodservice distributors are struggling to keep up with the proliferation of options as the foodservice packaging industry continues to design new products to meet the changing needs of its customers. 
  • The need to reduce costs, deal with labor shortage and speed up processes has meant that automation continues to be an important part of the machinery industry that supports foodservice packaging.

"We found that many of this year’s Trends Report results show that the more things change, the more they stay the same," said Dempsey.

For over a decade, the Trends Report is FPI’s response to dozens of requests received throughout the year from media, analysts, conference organizers and others about 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 players. 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 2019 Trends Report is available only to FPI members. Non-members may view an executive summary online on FPI’s website under Resources. Please contact  Natha Dempsey for more information.

Return to all stories for 2019»