US demand for molded pulp (or molded fiber) packaging is forecast to increase 6.1% annually to $1.3 billion in 2024, according to a new Freedonia Group analysis. Demand is expected to climb at a robust pace due to molded pulp’s environmental advantages, specifically its recyclability, biodegradability, and ability to be composted in industrial facilities. Other key factors supporting strong sales growth include:
- expanding recognition of molded pulp’s performance advantages, including excellent cushioning, bracing, and blocking
- the development of molded fiber products that are more competitive with plastic alternatives in terms of cost, performance, and aesthetics
- backlash against single-use plastic products manufactured from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, as well as bans on certain EPS foodservice products in a growing number of cities
Food Trays/Filler Flats & Cartons Will Remain the Top Two Molded Pulp Packaging Types
Trays and filler flats used for eggs, apples, and other types of fruits and vegetables will remain the leading packaging outlets for molded pulp through 2024, accounting for over 20% of sales. Trays and flats – along with egg cartons – were among the earliest end uses for molded pulp, due to the material’s good cushioning properties and low cost.
Egg cartons will continue to account for the second largest portion of molded pulp sales, as egg producers continue to rely on molded fiber for its protective properties and comparable price to EPS foam:
- Molded pulp egg cartons will see their market share grow slightly at the expense of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam due primarily to their superior sustainability (molded pulp containers are recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable in certain locations).
- The natural aesthetics of molded fiber – while limited compared to plastic – also help impart a “farm fresh” image that many egg suppliers desire for product differentiation purposes.
Looking for More?
See Molded Pulp Packaging and Egg Cartons, two new industry studies from The Freedonia Group.