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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:
breakfast foods such as waffles, pancakes, French toast, and toaster pastries
plant-based meat alternative products
pizzas such as pizza pies, slices, flatbreads, pizza pockets, and pizza rolls,
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:
bread rolls and loaves
cakes, cheesecakes, and cake bites
cheese and sweet rolls
cookies and brownies
dough and batters (cookie, pastry, filo)
eclairs and other pastries
flan, custard, crème brûlée
pie and pizza crusts
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
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:
meal delivery program foods
shelf-stable products that are frozen after purchase
Flexible packaging product segments covered include:
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
flat (e.g., pillow, four-side seal, and three-side seal)
stand-up, including round-bottom/Doyen, K-seal, corner-bottom, flat-bottom
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.
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
Through 2024, demand for flexible frozen food packaging is forecast to rise 3.6% per year to $3.2 billion. Advances will be supported by:
rising demand for convenient frozen foods and expanding availability of innovative flavors and styles, including premium options and more packaging-intensive single-serving items that support portion control
the expanding use of lighter weight flexible packaging rather than rigid packaging in a number of frozen food applications due its source reduction and performance advantages
continued widespread use of bags, lidding, and wrap with rigid packaging in many frozen food applications
Additionally, 2020 sales will be bolstered by a spike in at-home frozen food purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic due to surging grocery sales amid reduced foodservice activity and increased consumer stockpiling of nonperishable foods.
Bags Will Continue to Dominate, But Pouches Will Increase Market Share in Key Segments
Though bags will remain the most used type of flexible frozen food packaging due to their low cost and broad range of applications, pouches will post the faster gains as they continue to capture market share from bags and rigid containers. Stand-up pouches offer enhanced performance and visual appeal and are increasingly preferred in applications such as frozen entrées and meat, poultry, and seafood products due to their enhanced billboard space and visibility in store freezers.
Leading Frozen Meat, Poultry, & Seafood Segment Continues to Drive Market Growth
The meat, poultry, and seafood segment will remain the leading and fastest growing market for flexible frozen food packaging, bolstered by rising use of higher value products such as stand-up pouches and vacuum skin packaging in premium applications.
Healthy increases are also expected in applications such as frozen fruits, vegetables, and juices; frozen specialty foods; and frozen ice cream novelties – due in part to increasing adoption of higher value pouch packaging. For instance, in ready-to-heat frozen specialties and frozen vegetable applications, steamable stand-up pouches employing value-added venting technologies are increasingly used due to their enhanced convenience.
Sustainability Represents a Key Growth Area for Frozen Food Flexible Packaging Suppliers
Ongoing efforts by manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprints through source reduction will continue to drive the development of more sustainable packaging technologies, such as products based on recycled or degradable materials. Suppliers of bags, pouches, and plastic film used with frozen food packaging are increasingly investing in recycled, recyclable, and/or biodegradable materials (e.g., post-consumer recycled plastic, bioplastics) that help these companies – as well as their customers – meet sustainability goals.