Flexible Frozen Food Packaging

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Packaging

This study analyzes the market for flexible frozen food packaging. Historical (2009, 2014 and 2019) data and forecasts to 2024 are presented in current dollars.

Applications covered include:

  • frozen specialty foods:
    • appetizers
    • breakfast foods such as waffles, pancakes, French toast, and toaster pastries
    • breakfast sandwiches
    • entrées
    • frozen dinners
    • hand-held entrées
    • plant-based meat alternative products
    • pizzas such as pizza pies, slices, flatbreads, pizza pockets, and pizza rolls,
    • side dishes
    • soups
    • whipped toppings
  • meat, poultry, and seafood, including fresh, unprepared item as well as further processed types, such as breaded poultry and seafood:
    • meat (including beef and veal, pork, and lamb) as well as meat products marketed as breakfast meats
    • poultry (chicken, turkey, and other products such as goose and duck)
    • seafood (all fish and shellfish)
  • frozen baked goods, including:
    • bagels
    • biscuits
    • bread rolls and loaves
    • cakes, cheesecakes, and cake bites
    • cheese and sweet rolls
    • cinnamon rolls
    • cookies and brownies
    • dough and batters (cookie, pastry, filo)
    • eclairs and other pastries
    • flan, custard, crème brûlée
    • muffins
    • pie and pizza crusts
    • pies
    • rolls
    • tarts
    • tortillas
  • fruit, vegetables, and juice:
    • plain vegetables and fruit products
    • prepared frozen vegetables, such as breaded onion rings, mushrooms and eggplant, veggie pastas, and mashed cauliflower
    • juice concentrates – including 100% juice concentrates and juice drink concentrates (e.g., lemonade and fruit punch)
    • French fries, which are considered a potato product
  • ice cream and other frozen desserts:
    • hard and soft ice cream
    • hard and soft frozen yogurt
    • sherbet
    • sorbet
    • gelato
    • frozen custard
    • flavored ices
    • ice cream cakes
    • ice cream novelties (i.e., single-serve units of any of the above)
    • other frozen foods, including (e.g., sauces, baby food, pet food, cocktail mixers, nondairy creamers, liquid eggs, herbs, drink mixes)

Excluded from the scope of this study are:

  • packaged ice
  • frozen carryout
  • meal delivery program foods
  • shelf-stable products that are frozen after purchase

Flexible packaging product segments covered include:

  • bags
  • lidding film:
    • including plastic film lidding (typically made from one or more layers of plastics such as PET or PP), paper lidding, and aluminum foil lidding
    • excluding paper and plastic lids sold together with accompanying paper or plastic containers as well as plastic overwrap and shrink wrap
  • pouches, including:
    • flat (e.g., pillow, four-side seal, and three-side seal)
    • stand-up, including round-bottom/Doyen, K-seal, corner-bottom, flat-bottom
  • wrap:
    • including foil wrap, paper wrap and overwrap, as well as plastic film wrap and overwrap, including stretch and shrink film/wrap and thermoforming film
    • excluding lidding films, chubs, brick packs, vacuum seal packaging (VSP), and vacuum sealed bags
  • other packaging formats (interleaving, chubs, vacuum skin packaging, and brick packs)

Excluded are separately sold lids, caps, and closures.

Packaging

Demand by Product

Demand for flexible frozen food packaging is forecast to climb 3.6% per year to $3.2 billion in 2024. Flexible packaging has gained share over rigid packaging in frozen food applications due to:

  • above average increases for pouches due to such advantages as resealability – which provides added convenience and helps reduce food waste – and shelf appeal
  • the good protective properties of wrap and other films – especially for meat, poultry, and seafood sold for foodservice and consumer use
  • increasing revenues for restaurants and other foodservice establishments, which are intensive users of frozen foods packaged in bags
  • flexible packaging’s relative light weight and lesser use of material input than rigid formats such as trays, boxes, and cartons, which helps reduce shipping costs and packaging waste

Through 2024, flexible packaging sales are expected to increase at roughly the same rate as those of rigid packaging due to strong gains in the frozen specialty foods – intensive user of rigid formats such as folding cartons and trays.

Bags and pouches are the two largest flexible packaging products for frozen foods, accounting for a combined 71% of demand in 2019.

Pouches will experience the fastest growth as they continue to make inroads into box and bag applications based on:

  • advantages in barrier properties, source reduction, and resealability
  • growing use of higher value laminated and coextruded films, which allow stand-up pouches to withstand the low temperatures of freezer cases
  • innovations in self-venting films that enable steam cooking of frozen foods in their packaging

Bag demand growth is expected to expand more slowly as use of these products is mature in key applications such as frozen fruits and vegetables and competition from pouches, especially with retail products, will continue. Still, advances will be supported by:

  • the advantages bags have over rigid packaging in terms of cost and source reduction

growing demand for larger bags and more costly reclosable bags, which will drive gains in market value

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