US Demand for Fresh Produce Packaging to Near $7 Billion in 2024

A new Freedonia Group analysis forecasts fresh produce packaging demand to increase 3.7% per year through 2024. Although stronger increases will be limited by relatively slow growth in overall domestic produce output, gains will be driven by:

  • Rising demand for produce sold in some form of packaging, including pouches, bags, and rigid plastic containers
  • More intensive use of higher value packaging types that offer convenience and ease-of-use features, superior performance and shelf life, and/or improved environmental footprints
  • Increasing sales of ready-to-eat (RTE) salads, as well as pre-cut produce such as apple slices, melon spears, and carrot sticks – typically sold in tubs, cups, or other rigid plastic containers

Sustainability Remains a Primary Goal for Fresh Produce Packaging Suppliers

Sustainable packaging is increasingly important across consumer industries, but especially in the fresh produce industry, in part because consumers who purchase such products tend to be environmentally conscious. Additionally, many are accustomed to buying produce in the bulk format common of traditional grocery stores, and the introduction of new or additional produce packaging can be off-putting, especially when it is used with organic produce.

Such negative conceptions can be assuaged through use of packaging that is biodegradable, recyclable, or made of bio-based or recycled materials. Many companies are using environmentally friendly packaging that gives the impression that the purchase is healthful and natural. For example:

  • Sambrailo’s ReadyCycle containers are 100% recyclable clamshell alternatives made from paperboard and lacking additional labels, adhesives, and coatings.
  • Visy has developed fiber-based punnets under the Enviropunnet brand name as an alternative to plastic punnets.

Lightweighting Packaging Has Both Environmental & Financial Benefits

Although less in the consumer eye, lightweighting – or the design of packaging that uses less material – is another important trend in produce packaging because it helps companies meet environmental standards while offering significant advantages in supply chain logistics. Lighter, thinner packaging saves material costs and increases the amount of produce that can be shipped in a single load, which in turn reduces the number of shipments than need to be made, saving time and energy.

Want to Learn More?

Fresh Produce Packaging is now available from the Freedonia Group. This study analyzes the US market for produce packaging. Historical data (2009, 2014, and 2019) and forecasts for 2024 are presented for produce packaging demand in current US dollars (including inflation) by product and application.

Products covered include the following:

  • Retail-ready and other corrugated boxes (regular slotted containers, full telescoping boxes, boxes with cut-outs for display purposes, open-top tray-style boxes, fold-over gift boxes, bulk bins, and display ready boxes)
  • Bags, including bag liners (e.g., plastic mesh, paper, textile)
  • Flexible packaging (bags, pouches, plastic film)pouches (pillow and stand-up
  • Plastic containers (clamshells, tubs, cups, bowls, square & rectangular two-piece containers, and pails)
  • Trays and platters (including molded pulp, rigid plastic, expanded polystyrene foam, and paperboard types)
  • Baskets, punnets, and tills
  • Other products, including rigid plastic containers (RPCs), plastic film, foam boxes, wood crates, folding cartons, sleeves, dividers, tissue paper, and ventilation pads

Demand is also discussed by produce applications:

  • Fresh vegetables & salad – salad, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, spinach and greens, sweet corn, sweet potatoes
  • Fresh fruit – berries, apples, citrus, melons, grapes, avocados, bananas, cherries, kiwis, peaches, pears, pineapples