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Meat, poultry, seafood packaging expected to exceed US$9.5 billion: report

A Freedonia report says the shift to case-ready packaging and single-portion products are just two factors behind the increase in packaging growth


New York City – A new market research report expects meat, poultry and seafood packaging demand in the U.S. to exceed US$9.5 billion in 2017.

The Meat, Poultry & Seafood Packaging study from Freedonia says there are a few factors behind the growth, including:

• improved meat, poultry and seafood production;
• increase in demand for small size and single-portion items; and
• more further processed products that offer convenience of preparation.

The report goes onto explain that there will be a shift to case-ready packaging among grocery chains because of the reduced labour. And case-ready products typically use more costly trays and high-barrier films.

Also, the small-size and single-portion items category is expected due to the forecasted growth of one- and two-person households in the U.S.

Also, products that are further processed generally require more packaging relative to their volume than larger unprocessed items.

Pouches, high barrier film

The report says the demand for flexible packaging will outpace that of rigid packaging as a result of solid prospects for pouches and high-barrier film.

Advances for pouches will be driven by heightened demand for single-portion fresh, frozen and processed products in vacuum pouches, with stand-up pouches continuing to supplant bags in frozen meat, poultry and seafood applications due to their good aesthetics, ability to stand upright, and large front panels, all of which provide merchandising advantages.

The large package size requirements of club stores will also be stimulants for value growth.

Gains for high-barrier film will be based on the prevalence of vacuum packaging and modified atmosphere packaging with fresh and processed meats, since the efficacy of these packaging technologies generally depends on barrier films.

Among rigid packaging products, plastic containers and trays will see the fastest growth.

Demand for plastic containers will be supported by the expanding presence of prepared meat and poultry items in supermarkets, warehouse clubs and other retail sites.

Tray demand will be helped by a shift in the product mix toward larger and more expensive foam and rigid plastic trays as a result of the increasing share of case-ready meats and the expanded presence of processed ready-to-cook meat, poultry and seafood products.

However, plastic containers and trays will face increased competition from flexible packaging, which offers sustainability benefits via reduced material use, and significantly lower shipping costs than rigid containers.

Ready-to-eat market

The ready-to-eat market, says the report, will experience the fastest increases, driven by the growing range of prepared foods in the retail sector.

Demand in the fresh and frozen market will be supported by the rising presence of case-ready and modified atmosphere packaging to extend the shelf life of fresh meat, poultry, and seafood.

In the processed market, demand will be aided by product development efforts toward higher margin items offering convenience (e.g., precooked bacon, fully cooked ground meat, and products that can be cooked in their packaging) as well as a wider variety of flavours.