Retort Packaging Demand to Grow 1.7% Annually Through 2026

Cleveland OH, August 10, 2022 – A new Freedonia Group analysis forecasts demand for retort packaging for food to increase 1.7% annually to $4.7 billion in 2026:

  • Retort will remain the largest type of thermal food processing used due to the low cost and long shelf life afforded by cans for use with soups, processed fruits and vegetables, and dinners, as well as the established nature of retort processing lines.
  • Growth will also be supported by the increasing popularity of alternative retort packaging, such as pouches and cartons.

However, retort packaging will lose share to aseptic processing. Aseptic processing affords multiple benefits over retort processing, which requires the food product to be heated in-container for an extended period of time. The most important advantage of aseptic processing is shorter heating times, which minimizes the impact of thermal processing of flavor, texture, and nutrition.

Metal Cans to Experience Slowest Growth; Pouches & Cartons to Register Strong Gains

Metal cans – the oldest and by far largest format of retort packaging – will experience slow demand growth off of a particularly high base year. Growth will be further restrained by competition from other retort packaging formats, as well as competition from other thermal processes and fresh and frozen products. In addition, canned dairy-based foods and meat, poultry, and seafood will experience especially slow growth, due to both competition from fresh and frozen alternatives, as well as competition from retort pouches.

Pouches and cartons – currently comparatively niche retort formats – will see the strongest gains due to their premium image and lighter weight while maintaining similar shelf lives. Significant demand growth is expected for processed fruits and vegetables, broth, and condiments, which are increasingly packaged in retort pouches and cartons instead of cans.

Want to Learn More?

Retort Food Packaging provides historical data (2011, 2016, and 2021) and forecasts for 2026 for retort food packaging demand in current dollars (including inflation) by product, food application, and material.


  • cans
  • bottles and jars
  • cups and tubs
  • pouches
  • cartons
  • other packaging

Food applications:

  • processed fruits and vegetables
  • sauces and condiments
  • prepared foods
  • meta, poultry, and seafood
  • dairy foods
  • other foods


  • metal
  • plastic
  • glass
  • paperboard

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