About half of the gains will be attributable to an increase in meat, poultry and seafood production, and half will be attributable to changes in packaging practices, suggesting there is growing scope for innovation in this sector.
The Freedonia Group survey, entitled Meat, Poultry & Seafood Packaging, said that processors are expanding their offerings of meat and poultry items in smaller, more convenient sizes as well as increasing the number of items that are further processed. Packaging's importance in maintaining the safety of perishables like meat, poultry and seafood will remain an underlying factor supporting continued growth.
Interestingly, demand for flexible packaging is forecast to climb 4.7 per cent per year to $3 billion in 2009, driven by robust advances for high barrier film and pouches. The survey suggests that barrier film demand will benefit from the shift toward case-ready meats, which require value-added packaging materials for longer shelf life and protection from puncturing during shippingand handling.
Pouch gains will result from the increased penetration of retort pouchesfor processed products in both the consumer and foodservice markets. While rigid packaging demand will benefit from increased meat production and favorable demographic and retail trends, slower gains will reflect maturity in the corrugated box segment and loss of share by folding cartons and metal cans to pouches.
Trays, plastic containers and sleeves will log above-average growth, benefitting from trends driving shifts in the product mix toward these items. Industry and regulatory trends will bode well for accessories such as labels and absorbent pads.
The highest growth is anticipated for poultry applications, with advances driven by rising poultry demand based on a combination of a good nutritional profile, versatility and lower cost than beef. Poultry's popularity will also continue to drive further introductions of convenience-oriented items, which will stimulate related packaging demand.
Such items tend to be more highly packaged or use higher performing materials for modified atmosphere packaging systems. Meat applications, despite continued concerns over fat and cholesterol intake, will advance favorably, propelled by strong gains for trays and film in case-ready packaging and growing use of heavier, high barrier films in shrink bags for larger cuts of beef and pork.
Seafood applications will be stimulated by rising demand as a result of perceived health benefits of seafood and revised government nutritional guidelines encouraging increased seafood consumption.