In the Folding Carton Market, Specialty Drinks & Frozen Food Provide Opportunities

A new Freedonia Group analysis finds that demand for folding cartons in the beverage market will benefit from the popularity of smaller, regional runs of beverages, most notably craft beer, and proliferation of limited, seasonal varieties of hard seltzers and premixed cocktails. These products frequently use folding cartons with more colorful and elaborate graphics to stand out from the competition.

The frozen food market will also see relatively healthy growth, boosted by continued consumer interest in convenient trays or bowls, which frequently employ folding cartons as secondary packaging. However, further gains in this market will be limited by competition from paper sleeves for secondary packaging of frozen food.

US Folding Carton Demand to Grow 1.8% Annually Through 2026

Through 2026, demand for folding cartons in the US is projected to rise 1.8% per year to $12.8 billion, with an uptick in real growth offset by slowing price increases.

Folding cartons will face several limiting trends, including a continuing push to reduce the amount of secondary packaging used with manufactured products. For example, in many markets cartons are seeing loss of market share to stand-up pouches, which offer:

  • consumers with performance benefits such as resealability
  • producers with such advantages as reduced shipping costs due to lighter weight and space saving

Despite these challenges, growth will be supported by:

  • increasing production of beverages, the largest application
  • ongoing gains in the popularity of both takeout and delivery, amplified by the rise in online ordering and third-party delivery services
  • rising pharmaceutical production to meet the needs of an aging population

Want to Learn More?

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