Produce Packaging

Growing Use of Packaging for Fresh Produce Items Drives Demand

Produce Packaging Market in the US, 7th Edition

US demand for produce packaging is projected to increase 4.0% per year. This will represent an improvement over the 2012-2017 period, when domestic produce production declined. Beyond a modest rebound in production, a number of other factors will boost demand, including increased packaging of previously unpackaged produce items, and the widening availability of cut and shredded produce in convenience-oriented packaging.

Key Findings in the Produce Packaging Study

More Produce Packaged in Greater Variety of Formats

Historically, a significant share of fresh produce sold at retail was packaged for shipment, then displayed and sold in bulk. This is changing, and will continue to do so, fueled by such new and ongoing trends as:

  • increased packaging of items not traditionally packaged for retail, such as apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and sweet corn
  • establishment of packaged salads as a ubiquitous grocery item – first in bags, then in a proliferation of packaging formats, including two-piece plastic containers
  • introduction of such products as steamable fresh vegetables in the hope they will be as commercially successful as their frozen counterparts

Convenience for Retailers and for Shoppers

The introduction of bagged salad heralded a new era of convenience-minded produce products, including a wide variety of ready-to-use fresh-cut produce items, such as:

  • fruits and vegetables prepared for snacking and school lunches
  • meal preparation helpers such as vegetable medleys for fajitas and stir-frys
  • melons, pineapples, and other fruits that,are too large for some households

Some Produce Packaging Trends Run Counter to Prevailing Packaging Patterns

In recent years, many food processors have sought to reduce packaging waste. In many respects, the produce industry will continue to move in the opposite direction, with a higher percentage of produce being sold in some form of retail packaging as a marketing device and to reduce food waste. Additionally, commodity flexible packaging – long used to package apples, onions, potatoes, and other produce items – is losing share to clamshells and other plastic containers, although value added pouches have offset this to some extent.

Even so, producers are cognizant of their environmental footprints. This will lead to further advances in the use of plastic resins with recycled content, molded pulp products made from reclaimed fiber, and other packaging formats with favorable environmental images.

Study Coverage

This industry study presents historical demand data (2007, 2012 and 2017) and forecasts for 2022 by product (corrugated boxes, flexible packaging, plastic containers, trays, RPCs, wood crates, foam boxes, and molded pulp baskets) and application (vegetables, fruit, and salad). The study also evaluates company market share and provides analysis on industry competitors including Bemis, Berry Global, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, Pactiv, Packaging Corporation of America, Sealed Air, Sonoco, and WestRock.

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