Despite Short-Term Strain from COVID-19, US Molded Pulp Packaging Demand to Rise 6.1% Per Year Through 2024

The US molded pulp packaging market is forecast to grow 6.1% annually to $1.3 billion in 2024, a new Freedonia Group analysis finds. Though near-term disruptions in supply and demand will result from the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, the key trends driving molded pulp packaging sales  – namely, rapidly expanding demand for sustainable packaging alternatives – are expected to support a quick return to strong growth as the effects of the virus subside.

Molded pulp packaging benefits from environmental advantages

US demand for molded pulp packaging is expected to climb at a robust pace through 2024 due to molded pulp’s environmental advantages, specifically its recyclability, biodegradability, and ability to be composted in industrial facilities. Other key factors supporting strong sales growth include:

  • expanding recognition of molded pulp’s performance advantages, including excellent cushioning, bracing, and blocking
  • the development of molded fiber products that are more competitive with plastic alternatives in terms of cost, performance, and aesthetics
  • backlash against single-use plastic products manufactured from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, as well as bans on certain EPS foodservice products in a growing number of cities

Over the long term, the fastest annual sales increases are projected for the foodservice market, as eating and drinking establishments increasingly invest in environmentally friendly molded pulp clamshells, plates and bowls, and lunch trays for delivery, takeout, and for serving food.

COVID-19 pandemic impacts molded pulp packaging supply & demand in short term

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant near-term impact on the US molded pulp packaging market as:

  • governments order the closure of nonessential businesses, including many restaurants and other eating and drinking places, which are intensive users of molded fiber clamshells, plates, bowls, and other foodservice products
  • social distancing protocols lead to slower output among major global producers, particularly China, where many molded pulp packaging products used in the US are manufactured

Nevertheless, continued use of drive-thru and carryout foodservice and grocery stores will help sustain sales during the crisis. And a boost in online shopping among self-isolating consumers has the potential to drive up sales of molded pulp protective packaging.

Looking for more?

See Molded Pulp Packaging, now available from The Freedonia Group. This study covers US demand for molded pulp – also known as molded fiber – packaging. Historical demand is presented for the years 2009, 2014, and 2019, with forecasts to 2024, in current US dollars at the manufacturers’ level, by market (primary packaging for food and nonfood items; foodservice packaging; and protective packaging) and application. Demand is also broken out by product type. Unit demand data is also available for selected products. The study also features a comprehensive corporate analysis, including market share by company.