Among Folding Carton Applications, Foodservice Is Forecast to See the Fastest Gains Through 2026

Cleveland OH, July 26, 2022 – The foodservice and carryout market for folding cartons is expected to expand much more quickly than average through 2026, finds a new Freedonia Group analysis. The importance of takeout and delivery - including online orders, which surged during the COVID-19 pandemic – will be a key driver of growth.

While consumer interest in sustainability is boosting use of paper folding cartons (which are seen as recyclable and biodegradable) in place of single-use plastics, sealable plastic packaging continues to provide strong competition for some foodservice items, as consumers are most concerned that their food arrives intact and plastic containers have higher leak resistance than cartons.

US Folding Carton Market to Approach $13 Billion in 2026

Demand for folding cartons is expected to grow 1.8% per year through 2026 to $12.8 billion. Food and beverage applications will remain the largest outlet, boosted by growth in food production and increasing spending at big-box retail stores and wholesale warehouses, which commonly use these types of cartons to package larger or bulk amounts of food and beverage products. However, declining consumption of carbonated soft drinks and breakfast cereals, commonly packaged in folding cartons, will limit stronger gains.

The foodservice market will grow at an above average rate, supported by the continuing recovery in the foodservice sector and the continued popularity of takeout and delivery services following a surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Folding Cartons provides historical (2011, 2016, and 2021) data and forecasts to 2026 and 2031 are presented in current dollars and tons by market.


  • food and beverages:
    • beverages
    • frozen foods
    • bakery products
    • meat, poultry, and seafood, including meat alternatives
    • candy and confections
    • dairy products
    • other foods (e.g., breakfast cereal, savory snacks, sauces and condiments, fats and oils, infant foods, sweeteners, dry soups, spices and seasonings)
  • nondurable (nonfood) goods
    • pharmaceuticals
    • chemical products
    • cosmetics and toiletries
    • paper and publishing
    • other nondurable goods, including textiles and apparel, petroleum products, tape, and office supplies
  • durable goods
    • fabricated metal products
    • toys and sporting goods
    • machinery and equipment
    • silverware and jewelry
    • music, entertainment, and software
    • motor vehicle parts
    • glass and ceramic products
    • instruments and all other durable goods
  • foodservice and carryout
  • moving, storage, and other nonmanufacturing markets