Better Aesthetics, Sustainability, & Advanced Features Support Use of Higher-Value Boxes

Cleveland OH, March 23, 2022 – Growth in the $45 billion US market for corrugated and paperboard boxes through 2026 will be bolstered by growing demand for value-added features, according to a new Freedonia Group analysis. Although they are essentially a commodity product, boxes are increasingly enhanced to improve their aesthetics and functionality:

  • Digital printing is increasingly used to add photo-quality images to both the interior and exterior of boxes in order to catch a customer’s eye, and graphics can be easily altered for short production runs or personalized packaging.
  • Concerns over the sustainability of boxes has led suppliers to continue to shift from wax coatings to higher-cost water-based or biobased alternatives, which enhance moisture-resistance while enabling boxes to be recycled.
  • Boxes are increasingly being equipped with features such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors, which help with inventory management and shipment tracking.

US Box Demand to Total $50 Billion in 2026

The Freedonia Group forecasts demand for boxes in the US to increase 2.0% yearly from a high 2021 base to $49.9 billion, with volume demand reaching 31.9 million tons. Although the corrugated and paperboard box market in the US is mature, there are notable growth opportunities in nonmanufacturing applications such as e-commerce, foodservice, and delivery. In addition, suppliers will continue to introduce higher value boxes to the market in order to meet the sustainability and efficiency needs of their customers.

Want to Learn More?

Corrugated & Paperboard Boxes is now available from The Freedonia Group. This report encompasses demand for and production of corrugated and paperboard boxes. Historical (2011, 2016, and 2021) data and forecasts to 2026 are presented in current dollars and tons by product, market, and material.


  • corrugated boxes (including solid fiber boxes)
  • folding paperboard boxes (also referred to as folding cartons)
  • set-up (rigid) paperboard boxes

Markets (segments)

  • food and beverage (grain mill products; meat, poultry, and seafood; beverages; fresh produce; frozen foods; bakery products; canned foods; dairy products; candy and confections; other foods)
  • nonfood nondurable goods (paper and publishing; rubber and plastics; pharmaceuticals; chemical products; cosmetics and toiletries; other nonfood nondurable goods)
  • durable goods (machinery and equipment; glass and ceramic products; fabricated metal products; furniture, lumber, and wood products; toys and sporting goods; silverware and jewelry; motor vehicle parts; music, entertainment, and software; instruments; all other durable goods)
  • nonmanufacturing (foodservice and carryout; e-commerce; moving, storage, and other nonmanufacturing markets)


  • paperboard (unbleached kraft; recycled; semichemical; bleached kraft)
  • adhesives
  • protective coatings (wax; wax alternatives)
  • inks