US & Global Economic Impact Analysis and Forecasts

Freedonia analysts and economists are sharing their insights on how major events are impacting different parts of the US and global economies.

Starbucks: New Plans to Adopt More Sustainable On-the-Go Foodservice Packaging

Where big companies step in, innovations tend to happen faster. We’ve long seen that retail-level and fulfillment innovations take off when giants like Walmart and Amazon adopt a process or policy. Starbucks is one of those foodservice giants propelling more eco-friendly foodservice packaging innovations.

Starbucks announced this week that it will be making additional steps to reduce single-use plastics in its restaurants and will increasingly incorporate ways to reduce single-use products altogether as it develops improved processes for reusable cups and plates.

There are a lot of different ways that restaurants and coffee shops are testing greater use of reusable cups, plates, and utensils:

  • Borrowing programs are being tested by a number of salad/sandwich places and coffee shops. In these programs, if you don’t use the plate or cup for dining on-site, you bring it back to the restaurant or an authorized collection bin and then get a fresh one with your next order. Some programs require the use of a loyalty card that tracks the cups and plates, while others use deposits that are returned or credits that are applied when the cups and plates are logged in as returned.
  • The development of on-site washing services is another potential avenue as customers can bring in their own cups, plates, and utensils. Sometimes this washing is done by the foodservice facility itself and other times they offer a low- or no-touch self-service wash station.

Each have their own challenges in areas such as logistics, costs, water-use, heath-code compliance, and speed of order fulfillment. The bigger logistical challenge is always going to be how to use a customer's own cup in a drive-thru line without holding up the line.

However, where there's a will (and there is), there's a way. Solutions will be created and those who develop them stand to make a lot of money by solving a widespread problem.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly Packaging industries, as well as Food & Beverage industry analysis and consumer insights from our sister publisher Packaged Facts. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Food & Beverage      Packaging    

Close the Loop: Turning One Industry’s Waste Into New Products

Most of us know the old phrase “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”, and this article about a company that converts decommissioned airplane cabins into pod-style units for home offices, children’s play space, and guest spaces illustrates that old adage still holds.

In a world where “green cred” is often a marketing advantage, building a business or product line using some sort of waste product has its advantages. In many cases, there are cost advantages too. For industries that see the material as waste, it’s a cost. They must pay for the waste to be taken away to a landfill or recycling facility. In those cases, it can be an advantage to give companies seeking to repurpose the waste a very good deal to take it away. Doing so also helps the company that created the waste to be able to show customers and shareholders that it is responsibly dealing with its materials or products at the end of their useful lives, something that is increasingly part of how a company is evaluated. If a business operates under an extended producer responsibility law, the need is ever more urgent.

In the end, creativity is the name of the game as firms seek to reduce landfilled waste and create business opportunities from waste.  

Freedonia analysts will continue to stay on top of ways industries reduce their waste and track their products through the end of their useful lives, sometimes creating new business opportunities.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Industry Studies    

COVID-19…Forgotten (Almost), But Not Gone

This past week, COVID-19 outbreaks in Chinese industrial regions, Hong Kong, and elsewhere (including positive cases with the First Gentleman and former President Obama) pushed the pandemic back into the news, if not back onto the front pages where it had been for so long.

“Nonessential” business in several Chinese cities and movement between major industrial and financial areas such as Shenzhen, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qindoa, and Hong Kong have been restricted. Warehouses closed, and freight drivers face additional testing. Truck drivers must change at designated checkpoints around Hong Kong. These and other measures combine to challenge a global supply chain that was already seeing stresses from fighting in Ukraine and the corresponding sanctions on Russia.

However, China is seeking to institute more targeted coronavirus response actions to keep the economy from grinding to a halt when infections surface. The result has been that – following a week-long suspension of “nonessential” businesses – many are allowed to resume business if they meet specific criteria, including heightened testing and on-site dorms for workers. Still, those measures require resources and more rural and less economically developed areas are still subject to 2020-style lockdowns.

As responses change and outbreaks continue to come up (with the ongoing risk of new variants), there will continue to be hiccups in output and distribution. Companies will continue to watch for changes, particularly around key export producers, distribution hubs, and sea ports as well as shifting levels of openness in response to outbreaks.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Covid-19    

The Need for Change as More Workers Are Called to Return to Offices

The old adage follows that you can’t do what you always did and expect different results. As infection rates ease and pandemic fatigue hits us all big-time, many of us are ready for “normal”. But what is that? A life that looks like 2019 with the same commute, the same office, the same lunch routine, the same happy hours, the same gym, concerts and events at the same venues?

But infectious disease experts say that this won’t be our last global pandemic of an airborne virus. So what then?

Infectious disease experts also agree that there are reasonably accessible ways we can improve public health now and for future cold, flu, or other outbreaks with little or no change in habits by workers and event attendees. These measures include:

  • Ventilation – out with the old air and in with the new air! Even where windows can’t be opened, HVAC systems can be designed to have appropriate rates of fresh air exchange.
  • Filtration – HEPA filters are still the gold standard for air cleaning, but an increasing number of systems also include ultraviolet lights in ducts or at air exchange points to kill viral particles in the air.
  • Hand hygiene – hand washing is never a bad idea.
  • Routine cleaning of frequently user surfaces – while most infectious disease experts believe we have been over-cleaning our buildings given that COVID-19 is airborne, routine disinfecting of high-touch areas such as phones, desks, elevator buttons, bathroom faucets, and community coffee pots contribute to reducing spread of other illnesses.

Plexiglass barriers between certain types of workers – e.g., cashiers, receptionists – and the public may also continue to be helpful as mask wearing eases. Many think of these as the sneeze guards for the modern era.

Freedonia analysts will continue to watch for innovations in building air quality as well as preferences of occupants, builders, and owners to see how our construction elements can contribute to overall worker wellness and productivity.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly Indoor Air Quality Equipment, Global HVAC Equipment, and Nonwovens. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.


What’s in a Name? Potentially Trouble

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet… with apologies to William Shakespeare, consumer products suppliers and branding professionals know differently.

Corona, the well-known Mexican beer brand (sold in the US by Constellation Brands), was initially thought to take a hit in sales in 2020 as its name was so similar to the coronavirus pandemic then raging largely unchecked. False associations with the virus turned out to not be as damaging as initially feared. This ended up being a case more closely related to the idea that there is no such things as bad publicity. The hubbub over the brand’s similarity to the virus ended up having the brand frequently discussed in the news. The company believed that its customers knew the difference between the virus and the beer; they did.

The current negative associations in the US with Russian branded products may be a little harder to refute. Vodka brands such as Stolichnaya and Smirnoff have long enjoyed positive associations as Russian vodka is seen as a premium product in the US. So, despite being made elsewhere, the brands have had little reason to loudly refute that perception.

For instance, the Stolichnaya vodka sold outside of Russia is made in Latvia and owned by Luxembourg-based Stoli Group. The company, which had been stepping back from labeling as “Russian Vodka” (the company had been sourcing ethanol from Russia, but is now shifting to Slovakia, despite the higher cost), is now changing the vodka’s name to Stoli to allow for even more separation.

None of this is new. It has happened before and will happen again. Companies and brands must stay aware of perceptions of their products and remain flexible to adapt.

For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly Consumer and Packaging industries, as well as Food & Beverage industry analysis and consumer insights from our sister publisher Packaged Facts. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.

  Consumer Goods      Food & Beverage      Packaging