Post-Pandemic Trends and Recession Uncertainty Impact Foodservice Packaging Industry

The 15th annual Trends Report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) reveals the industry experienced a noticeable slowdown with the stagnation of orders and slower purchasing up and down the supply chain.

“Despite the uncertainty, the 2023 Trends Report did show bright spots. Respondents reported international shipping costs have gone down allowing for easier import and export experiences,” said Natha Dempsey, president of FPI.  “Another positive finding is that timelines for equipment have eased, although they can remain lengthy for in-demand machinery. And, as marketplace shifts continue post-COVID, respondents reported increased purchasing of foodservice packaging through e-commerce.”

Demand for operators that cater or service office environments has rebounded but reports show that full-time in-office attendance is still far below 2019 levels. With so much of the workforce in a flexible or hybrid state, dayparts have also become fluid, serving consumers meals or snacks when and where they want them.

Operators are reporting post-pandemic shifts in several areas, particularly with inflation. “Consumers have been hit hard in the wallet, leading them to look for the best bang for their buck.” said Dempsey.  “This has led to a rise in meal deals with a nostalgic twist — taking consumers back to better days, even if the price tag reflects current conditions.”

As inflation continues to impact consumers, service fees become a larger burden, leading to a shift away from delivery toward takeout. The survey also shows there’s been such a shift to takeout that operators are moving to smaller format, smaller footprint locations with an emphasis on drive-thru, to-go and delivery.

Policy continues to be top-of-mind for the respondents with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) discussions being most prevalent. Legislation, specifically EPR, was the number one topic brought up in the survey.

For 15 years, the Trends Report has provided FPI’s reflection on the latest industry happenings. This annual survey collects 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 2023 Trends Report is available to FPI members. Non-members may view an executive summary on FPI’s website. Please contact Ashley Elzinga at for more information.

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