Food container demand in the US is projected to increase 3.3 percent yearly to $14 billion in 2003, representing 120 billion units. Container demand will be stimulated by an expanding population, product mix changes toward higher value-added packaging systems and consumer interest in convenient, highly packaged prepared foods. Further advances will be threatened by competition from flexible packaging (e.g., pouches) and increased consumption of fast food and other restaurant fare in lieu of home prepared meals. These and other trends are presented in Food Containers, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industrial market research firm.

Paperboard containers will remain the largest segment of the food container industry, with demand growing 3.2 percent annually to $5.4 billion in 2003. Folding carton demand will be constrained by ongoing source reduction efforts and growing competition from flexible packaging in traditional strongholds such as breakfast cereals. Better opportunities are anticipated in smaller product segments such as gabletop cartons, aseptics and paperboard cups, which will be driven by technological advances and strength in key markets like flavored creamers and premium ice creams.

Plastic packaging demand will exhibit the best growth, expanding 5.5 percent per annum to $3.8 billion in 2003 and overtaking metal as the second largest food container material. Advances will result from plastics’ advantages including clarity, light weight and shatter resistance. Improved barrier properties will create new opportunities in hot-fill applications such as jams, jellies and baby foods.

Regarding other food containers, best growth prospects are anticipated for aluminum and aerosol cans. The former will benefit from rising demand for items like pet foods and canned nutritional supplements. By contrast, steel cans will experience only modest demand growth, while glass containers will lose share to plastics in virtually every major category. Polyethylene terephthalate is expected to make rapid inroads into the last bastion of glass containers, namely wide mouth jars.

Best food container market opportunities are anticipated for sauces and condiments, and (to a lesser extent) frozen and baked items. Niche growth areas include containers used to package low-calorie and low-fat foods, ethnic and other highly flavored products.

Food Containers (published 12/99, 238 pages) is available for $3600 from The Freedonia Group, Inc., 767 Beta Drive, Cleveland, OH 44143-2326. For further details, please contact Corinne Gangloff by phone 440.684.9600, fax 646.0484 or e-mail pr@freedoniagroup.com. Full text is also available online through commercial database companies and the www.freedoniagroup.com.

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