Green packaging trend in food service sector shifts to materials and 'beginning of life' issues, while increased demand for smaller meals creates widening dayparts trend, FPI says

FALLS CHURCH, Virginia , December 6, 2011 () – The economy remains a driving force behind the trends of 2011 according to the Foodservice Packaging Institute’s latest Foodservice Packaging Trends Report.

FPI’s Trends Report is broken into two sections. The first contains the results of a survey on trends in five key areas sent to FPI members, including raw material and machinery suppliers, converters, foodservice distributors and operators. The second section contains analysis from FPI staff based on members’ survey submissions as well as other trends observed in FPI’s Packaging Innovations and Insights.

While the economic roller coaster ride goes on, the “green” packaging trend has continued as well. This year, the industry has seen a shift in emphasis on materials and “beginning of life” issues as compared to other years where “end of life” has been the primary focus. Also different, the acknowledgement from various value chain partners that, while “going green” is desirable, continuing economic pressures continue to be a challenge. In the current economic climate, costs continue to be a strong driving force for material and packaging selections.

One trend affecting the industry includes widening dayparts for foodservice operators as consumer wants shift towards smaller meal options at various times throughout the day. Whether economically or nutritionally motivated, expanding dayparts are also affording opportunities to change up restaurant and menu, and thus packaging, offerings.

There is also a trend towards consolidation. Both company and product consolidation was a strong theme seen throughout the industry in this year’s trends survey. Mergers and acquisitions as well as business closures have added to companies, facilities and staff losses. Cost pressures have driven more consolidation, and the industry is being forced to do more with fewer resources. Even products are being lost to SKU reduction and the elimination of like product offerings.

“The struggling economy continues to impact our industry in many ways,” said FPI President Lynn M. Dyer. “As these changes continue, the industry and its offerings may look a bit different, but we will emerge leaner, more efficient, and hopefully poised for growth as the economy improves.”

The Trends Report was developed in response to requests FPI receives from media, analysts, conference organizers and others for information on the latest trends in single-use foodservice packaging. FPI provides the report to its members for free as a value-added benefit. Non-members can purchase the report for $250. Please contact FPI Vice President Natha Freiburg at nfreiburg@fpi.org for more information or to subscribe to FPI’s free quarterlyPackaging Innovations and Insights newsletter.

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