Demand for corrugated boxes used to package fresh produce is projected to increase 3.3% per year to $2.4 billion in 2024, according to a new Freedonia Group analysis. Increased use of value-added boxes, such as those with retail-ready features designed to reduce labor costs, will be a key driver of market growth. Despite competition from RPCs, retail-ready corrugated boxes will continue to see strong gains in fresh produce applications due to their low cost and ability to be printed with high-quality graphics.
The growth of ALDI and similar low-price grocery chains will also promote growth for retail-ready boxes:
- To help keep their prices low, limited assortment low price chains (e.g., ALDI, Lidl, and Save-A-Lot) have traditionally reduced the amount of labor needed to stock products by displaying items – including produce – in the packaging (e.g., pallets and display-ready boxes) in which they were shipped.
- For produce, this approach includes extensive use of retail-ready packaging, including corrugated and RPCs.
Budget Grocery Chains Continue to Bolster Growth in Retail-Ready Box Sales
Limited assortment low price chains (e.g., ALDI, Lidl, and Save-A-Lot) represent one of the fastest growing segments of the grocery industry due to:
- rising consumer interest in smaller stores that are easier to shop and that offer low prices and high quality
- competitive prices, which can be even lower than those found at mass merchandise retailers
- the increasing popularity of private label brands, which often comprise the majority of products offered by these stores
- continued expansion into new geographic locations
- the ability to create a sense of urgency in customers by carrying a wide range of unique and interesting items that are only available for a limited amount of time
As these chains become more popular, trends in their produce packaging will be determined by their growth strategies. For example:
- ALDI expects to become the third largest US supermarket chain (behind Kroger and Walmart), with 2,500 stores by the end of 2022. Among other changes, remodeled stores feature produce displays that more closely resemble those of traditional supermarkets. As such, produce is increasingly available in packaged and ready-to-eat varieties, benefiting stand-up pouches; plastic tubs, cups, and bowls; and trays.
- Lidl, another Germany-based discount grocer, threatened to disrupt the US grocery market upon its mid-2017 entry. Lidl’s operating model in Europe involves the use of CCF containers (available in variety of sizes) that improve supply chain logistics by creating uniformity between the boxes used to ship fruits and vegetables. Lidl plans to open 50 new stores in the US by the end of 2021.
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Fresh Produce Corrugated Boxes analyzes the US market for produce corrugated boxes. Historical data (2009, 2014, and 2019) and forecasts for 2024 are presented for produce packaging demand in current US dollars (including inflation) and units by product and application.
Products covered include the following corrugated box types:
- regular slotted containers
- full telescoping boxes
- boxes with cut-outs for display purposes
- open-top tray-style boxes
- fold-over gift boxes
- bulk bins
- display-ready boxes
Demand is also discussed by produce applications:
- fresh vegetables (e.g., tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots, mushrooms celery, cabbage, peppers)
- fresh fruit (e.g., berries, apples, melons, citrus, grapes)