Sustainability to be a key market driver in North American packaging market over the next five years

Demand for food and drink packaging in North America will continue to expand and add new functionalities across the next five years, according to the latest market research from Smithers Pira.

The report, ‘The future of North American food and drink packaging to 2022’, [], tracks how this market consumed 514.55 million tonnes in 2016, having seen sluggish (1.3 per cent) annual growth since 2012. Smithers’ analysis shows that across 2017-2022 volume consumption will continue, and reach 551.32 million tonnes per annum in 2022.

Increasingly, food and drink packaging is expected to be recyclable and lightweight, i.e. manufactured with as little material as possible. Lack of recyclability is one of the key reasons US municipalities are increasingly moving to ban products, such as expanded polystyrene or styrofoam food packaging, with brand owners switching to more environmentally friendly materials, such as paperboard. A parallel trend extending into the future will be greater use of materials sourced in a sustainable manner. Plastic packaging in particular will be affected by the greater availability of commercial packaging grade bioplastics and enthusiasm for brands to make use of them.

Packaged food and drink sales via North American retail channels grew by an annual consumption trends average of 2.3 per cent between 2012 and 2016, reaching 549.57bn packs. By 2022, consumption is forecast to reach 659. 34bn packs, representing yearly growth of 3.1 per cent from present levels.

Between 2016 and 2022, Mexican sales of packaged food and drink rose to 3.5 per cent, out pacing both the US and Canada. Across 2017-2022, annual growth is expected to increase to 4.8 per cent in Mexico, meaning its share of total regional consumption will grow to 22.6 per cent — up from 20.5 per cent at present.

Growth is likely to be most apparent within the foil trays sector, averaging at more than six per cent per annum. Demand for paperboard lids and trays is also expected to grow steadily, largely due to environmental concerns as these products take share from plastic containers in both retail and food service sales.

The report highlights trends and dynamics within the North American market for food and drink packaging. The market data is segmented by pack type, end use and country. The report analyses the dynamics of each market, as well as reviewing the key trends driving consumer demand.