A recent study from Reportlinker shows an upswing in the produce packaging market, forecasting it to reach $4.8 billion in 2014. The growth is said to be fueled by a rebound in fresh produce production and growth in consumer spending as the US economy recovers from the recession that began in December 2007. Packaging demand will be further aided by preferences among retailers for display-ready packaging that holds down labor costs and a favorable outlook for fresh-cut, ready-to-eat produce, which offers convenience and tends to use more value-added packaging than bulk produce.
Plastic containers to be fastest growing types
Corrugated boxes will remain the leading produce packaging type through 2014 and beyond. Box demand is projected to increase below the industry average based on more moderate box price increases than in the 2004-2009 period, the maturity of most applications and competition from reusable plastic containers (RPCs). Still, value gains will reflect the increased prevalence of more costly box types such as modular boxes, white-top linerboard boxes and moistureresistant recyclable boxes.
Plastic containers will experience the fastest gains among major produce packaging types, propelled by continued favorable growth in berry production and expanding applications for clamshells and other plastic containers with whole and fresh-cut produce, both for retail and foodservice applications. Concerns regarding food safety and security will boost demand for plastic containers with tamper resistance features.
Bag and liner demand is expected to increase at a slightly below-average pace as a result of the increasing maturity of the salad market, competition from plastic containers and marginal growth for paper and textile bags. Faster advances for plastic bags will be fueled by growth in the variety of fresh-cut offerings, greater use of resealable and easy opening bags and requirements for value-added modified atmosphere packaging films offering extended shelf life for ready-to-eat produce. Smaller segments such as RPCs and temperature monitoring and traceability systems are expected to experience solid increases.
Fruit, salads to be fastest growing applications
Fruit and salad applications are expected to outpace the overall average. Gains for fruit will be supported by population growth, trends toward healthier eating and the increased availability of ready-to-eat fruit, especially in quick service restaurants and schools. Solid increases in berry production, driven by growing awareness of the cancer-fighting and antiaging properties of berries, will also bode well for related packaging.
Advances for salad will decelerate from the pace of the 1999-2009 period due to the growing maturity of the segment. Still, gains will be supported by rising production and the growing presence of ready-to-eat single-portion salads in supermarkets and other retail establishments such as convenience and drug stores. Though expected to increase more slowly, packaging demand in vegetable applications will be helped by a rebound in fresh vegetable production and heightened demand for ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook products, which tend to use more packaging.