Pandemic-Driven Surge in Online Grocery Sales to Have Lasting Effects on Fresh Produce Box Market

Suppliers of fresh produce corrugated boxes and other types of produce packaging will see lasting benefits from the surge in online grocery delivery and pickup orders seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Freedonia Group analysis.

Not only are consumers who used online services to buy produce for the first time during the pandemic more likely to use them again going forward, growth in e-commerce sales of fresh produce is expected to accelerate sharply through 2024 (albeit from a small base) due to:

  • improving technology, especially in same-day delivery services
  • the presence of large purveyors such as Amazon
  • a populace that prizes convenience but also wants to avoid processed food

As e-commerce sales of produce grow, there will be a concomitant need for standardized packaging that maintains brand quality through the shipping process but that also streamlines distribution.

Challenges Remain to Broader Use of E-Commerce for Produce

However, selling fresh produce online has many challenges, including higher logistics requirements, shorter delivery times, and the need for controlled temperatures and atmospheres to ensure very perishable produce remains of high quality. Additionally, as many consumers have a strong preference for handpicking produce themselves, e-commerce sales of these items will remain limited compared to shelf-stable groceries.

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Fresh Produce Corrugated Boxes analyzes the US market for produce corrugated boxes. Historical data (2009, 2014, and 2019) and forecasts for 2024 are presented for produce packaging demand in current US dollars (including inflation) and units by product and application.

Products covered include the following corrugated box types:

  • regular slotted containers
  • full telescoping boxes
  • boxes with cut-outs for display purposes
  • open-top tray-style boxes
  • fold-over gift boxes
  • bulk bins
  • display-ready boxes

Demand is also discussed by produce applications:

  • fresh vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots, mushrooms, celery, cabbage, peppers)
  • fresh fruit (e.g., berries, apples, melons, citrus, grapes)
  • salad