The report, by the Freedonia Group, gives processors an insight into how the markets are predicted to grow in the near future. By 2011 packaging will be used to ship $165bn of meat, poultry and seafood, compared with an industry worth $112bn a decade ago. Consumer trends towards healthier eating are expected to push packaging for poultry by 4.5 per cent each year to $2.9bn by 2011, while during the same period seafood applications will also growth in demand by 4.5 per cent year reaching $715m, the report claims. The lower cost of poultry compared with beef, combined with a predicted stream of higher-margin products designed for growing consumer demand for food packaged in convenience, and therefore smaller, portion are expected to fuel growth. The increasing use films for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is also a factor. The perceived health benefits of fresh and frozen fish, along with revised nutritional recommendations issued by the government in 2005, is encouraging increased seafood consumption and so will drive packaging demand in this area too, claims Freedonia. Where demand for flexible packaging, in the shape of pouches and films, increases above the average rate, the growth in this area will moderated by slowing growth for metal cans and boxes. Packaging for meat is expected to grow at 3.9 per cent each year, reaching $4.9bn in 2011, claims the report. Concerns over fat and cholesterol will push consumers towards healthier options. Case-ready meat packing, which extends shelf life and provides protection from puncturing during shipping, will drive above average demand for trays and films, however. Although slowing, the continued growth of packaging will reflect additional branded meat products, often in ready-to-cook format, entering the market. The ongoing popularity of red meat in steakhouses and burger restaurants, along with the continued importance of chicken and processed meats in foodservice establishments, will also aid meat packaging demand, claims the analyst.