Folding Cartons

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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

Sustainability has a complicated impact on demand for folding cartons, as the relative advantages and disadvantages of paperboard can benefit some aspects of sustainability while detracting from others. While there is demand for use of paper-based products over plastic types (especially in foodservice applications) because paper is commonly perceived by consumers as being more environmentally friendly, the rigid nature and poor barrier properties of paperboard compared to plastic are causing folding cartons to lose share to plastic packaging in some applications.

Specialty Drinks & Frozen Food Provide Opportunities for the Large Food & Beverage Market

In 2021, food and beverage applications accounted for 61% of folding carton demand. 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.

Foodservice Applications Are Forecast to See the Fastest Gains

The foodservice and carryout market for folding cartons is expected to expand much more quickly than average, due largely to the importance of takeout and delivery, as well as of online ordering and third-party delivery services. 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.

Demand by Market

Demand by Market

Folding carton demand in food and beverage market is forecast to climb 2.1% per year to $8.0 billion in 2026. Beverages will drive gains as a result of trends toward smaller, regional runs of beverages, promoting demand for higher value cartons with more elaborate graphics. Gains will also benefit from:

  • moderate growth in meat, poultry, and seafood production
  • gains in the production of frozen foods, where the ability to use high-value graphics are important in the frozen food market

Stronger gains will be limited by below average growth for bakery products, with demand restrained by competition from other packaging formats, including stand-up pouches, clamshells, and other plastic containers as food packagers look to curtail secondary packaging as part of source reduction efforts.

Historical Market Trends

A number of factors impact demand for folding cartons on a year-to-year basis, although in general trends in manufacturing output and product distribution play the greatest roles. Folding cartons are primarily used for packaging, with annual growth reflecting demand for the key goods packaged in these products, especially food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.

Other factors that impact sales volumes include:

  • competition from other packaging formats, especially flexible plastic packaging
  • source reduction efforts aimed at reducing the volume of raw materials used
  • paper recycling levels, as recycled paper is a key raw material for carton production

Trends in market value are determined primarily by annual changes in pricing and shifts in product mix in terms of folding carton size and their performance or value-added features (such as coatings).

Unlike a number of other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause demand for folding cartons to decline, instead it grew 1.5% in 2020. Gains generated in the dominant retail food and beverage market counteracted losses in other markets that were more significantly impacted by shutdowns, including foodservice, nonfood nondurables, and durable goods.

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Purchase Folding Cartons by the Section

  1. Folding Cartons

    $2,900.00

    1. 1 Executive Summary

      $323.00

      1. Figure 1-1. US Folding Carton Market

    2. 2 About This Report

      $488.00

      1. 2.1 Report Details

        $323.00

      2. 2.2 Study Scope & Product Description

        $323.00

      3. 2.3 Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

        $335.00

        1. Table | Annual Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2019 – 2022

        2. Figure 2-1. Annual Folding Carton Demand by Market , 2019 – 2022

    3. 3 Overview

      $1,040.00

      1. 3.1 Historical Market Trends

        $323.00

        1. Table | Folding Carton Demand, 2011 – 2021

        2. Figure 3-1. Folding Carton Demand, 2005 – 2021

      2. 3.2 Supply & Demand

        $323.00

        1. Table | Folding Carton Supply & Demand, 2011 – 2031

      3. 3.3 Demand by Market

        $323.00

        1. Table | Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

      4. 3.4 Pricing Trends

        $323.00

        1. Figure 3-2. Folding Carton Pricing, 2011 – 2031

      5. 3.5 Sustainability

        $323.00

        1. 3.5.1 Industry Initiatives

          $323.00

        2. 3.5.2 Recycling & Recycled Content

          $323.00

        3. 3.5.3 Compostability

          $323.00

        4. 3.5.4 Renewable Resource & Forest Management

          $323.00

      6. 3.6 Regulations

        $323.00

        1. 3.6.1 Regulatory Bodies

          $323.00

        2. 3.6.2 Renewable Energy Tax Credits

          $323.00

    4. 4 Food & Beverage Markets

      $1,928.00

      1. 4.1 Demand by Market

        $323.00

        1. Table | Food & Beverage Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

        2. Figure 4-1. Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

      2. 4.2 Beverages

        $323.00

        1. Figure 4-2. Beverage Folding Carton Demand, 2011 – 2031

      3. 4.3 Frozen Food

        $323.00

        1. 4.3.1 Market Scope & Forecast

          $323.00

          1. Table | Frozen Food Folding Carton Demand by Application, 2011 – 2031

        2. 4.3.2 Pizza

          $323.00

        3. 4.3.3 Dinners

          $323.00

        4. 4.3.4 Other Frozen Food

          $323.00

      4. 4.4 Bakery Products

        $323.00

        1. 4.4.1 Demand Forecasts

          $323.00

          1. Table | Bakery Products Folding Carton Demand by Application, 2011 – 2031

        2. 4.4.2 Cakes, Pies, &Pastries

          $323.00

        3. 4.4.3 Cookies & Crackers

          $323.00

        4. 4.4.4 Other Baked Goods

          $323.00

      5. 4.5 Meat, Poultry, &Seafood

        $323.00

        1. Table | Meat, Poultry, &Seafood Folding Carton Demand by Application, 2011 – 2031

        2. 4.5.1 Meat

          $323.00

        3. 4.5.2 Poultry

          $323.00

        4. 4.5.3 Seafood

          $323.00

        5. 4.5.4 Meat Alternatives

          $323.00

      6. 4.6 Candy & Confection

        $323.00

        1. 4.6.1 Demand Forecast

          $323.00

          1. Table | Candy & Confection Folding Carton Demand by Application, 2011 – 2031

        2. 4.6.2 Chewing Gum

          $323.00

        3. 4.6.3 Snack Bars

          $323.00

        4. 4.6.4 Chocolate

          $323.00

        5. 4.6.5 Other Candy & Confections

          $323.00

      7. 4.7 Dairy Products

        $323.00

        1. 4.7.1 Demand Forecast

          $323.00

          1. Table | Dairy Products Folding Carton Demand by Application, 2011 – 2031

        2. 4.7.2 Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts

          $323.00

        3. 4.7.3 Other Dairy Products

          $323.00

      8. 4.8 Other Food Products

        $323.00

        1. 4.8.1 Market Scope & Forecast

          $323.00

          1. Table | Other Food Products Folding Carton Demand by Application, 2011 – 2031

        2. 4.8.2 Breakfast Cereals

          $323.00

        3. 4.8.3 Savory Snacks

          $323.00

        4. 4.8.4 All Other Food Products

          $323.00

    5. 5 Nonfood Markets

      $1,343.00

      1. 5.1 Demand by Market

        $323.00

        1. Table | Nonfood Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

        2. Figure 5-1. Nonfood Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

      2. 5.2 Nondurable Goods

        $348.00

        1. 5.2.1 Market Scope & Forecast

          $323.00

          1. Table | Nondurable Goods Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

        2. 5.2.2 Pharmaceuticals

          $323.00

        3. 5.2.3 Chemical Products

          $323.00

        4. 5.2.4 Cosmetics & Toiletries

          $323.00

        5. 5.2.5 Paper & Publishing

          $323.00

        6. 5.2.6 Other Nondurable Goods

          $323.00

      3. 5.3 Durable Goods

        $469.00

        1. 5.3.1 Market Scope & Forecast

          $323.00

          1. Table | Durable Goods Folding Carton Demand by Market, 2011 – 2031

        2. 5.3.2 Fabricated Metal Products

          $323.00

        3. 5.3.3 Toys & Sporting Goods

          $323.00

        4. 5.3.4 Machinery & Equipment

          $323.00

        5. 5.3.5 Silverware & Jewelry

          $323.00

        6. 5.3.6 Music, Entertainment, &Software

          $323.00

        7. 5.3.7 Motor Vehicle Parts

          $323.00

        8. 5.3.8 Glass & Ceramic Products

          $323.00

        9. 5.3.9 Instruments & All Other Durable Goods

          $323.00

      4. 5.4 Foodservice & Carryout

        $323.00

        1. Table | Foodservice & Carryout Folding Carton Demand by Product, 2011 – 2031

      5. 5.5 Other Markets

        $323.00

    6. 6 Key Suppliers & Market Share

      $492.00

      1. 6.1 Industry Composition

        $323.00

      2. 6.2 Market Share

        $323.00

        1. Figure 6-1. Folding Carton Market Share by Company, 2021

      3. 6.3 Mergers & Acquisitions

        $323.00

        1. Table | Selected Mergers & Acquisitions

    7. 7 Appendix

      $2,918.00

      1. 7.1 Scope

        $323.00

        1. Table | Relevant Industry Codes

        2. Table | Relevant HS Codes

      2. 7.2 Definitions

        $323.00

      3. 7.3 Freedonia Methodology

        $798.00

      4. 7.4 Study-Specific Methodology

        $323.00

      5. 7.5 Sources

        $323.00

      6. 7.6 Associations & Agencies

        $323.00

      7. 7.7 Related Studies & Reports

        $355.00

      8. 7.8 Macroeconomic Assumptions

        $2,918.00

        1. 7.8.1 Economic Environment

          $353.00

          1. Table | Macroeconomic Indicators, 2011 – 2031

        2. 7.8.2 Demographics

          $342.00

          1. Table | Population & Households, 2011 – 2031

        3. 7.8.3 Consumer Spending

          $331.00

          1. Table | Personal Consumption Expenditures, 2011 – 2031

        4. 7.8.4 Manufacturers’ Shipments

          $323.00

          1. Table | Manufacturers’ Shipments, 2011 – 2031

        5. 7.8.5 E-Commerce Sales

          $450.00

          1. Table | E-Commerce Sales by Market, 2011 – 2031

        6. 7.8.6 Retail Sales

          $1,509.00

          1. Table | Retail Sales by Market, 2011 – 2031

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