The report authors said that rigid packaging retained the largest market share in world terms, but noted that flexible packaging was the fastest-growing segment within global packaging for so-called ‘muscle foods’: poultry, seafood and meat.
“Packaging plays a relatively more crucial role in the packaging of muscle foods, including poultry, seafood, and meat, when compared to its application in other products,” the authors wrote.
“This is mainly because the raw muscle products deteriorate faster and possess a higher potential for contamination compared to other products. Muscle food packaging plays a very important role in preserving the quality of meat, poultry, and seafood that is packed within,” they added.
Rigid packaging reigns
GIA’s analysts noted that, while rigid packaging, “continues to reign in the global muscle food packaging market, flexible packaging is expected to supersede the domination of rigid packaging in the following years”.
The authors noted that several large muscle food processors were introducing flexible packaging options such as pouches, high barrier films and bags, provided by large packaging firms such as Amcor, Interflex and Sealed Air.
This was due to lower energy consumption during production, and the fact that such flexible solutions occupied less space at landfill, the report authors added.
“Towards the end of the analysis period [2009-2014] demand for flexible packaging is expected to outpace rigid packaging,” they said.
This movement would be driven by increasing demand for high-barrier films used in case-ready packaging, GIA predicted, and increased use of stand-up, retort and other pouches that served as alternatives to traditional carton packaging.
“The increased usage of retort pouches for processed products in the consumer as well as foodservice markets is expected to result in the high demand for pouches,” wrote the authors.
Pouches out-muscle cans?
GIA added that pouches represented the fastest-growing product type within flexible packaging, as they provided an “efficient and cheaper alternative to canning”.
General growth drivers for muscle food packaging – across developed markets such as the US and also the developing world – included rising demand for smaller, convenience foods, growing interest in ethnic cuisine and rapid NPD, said GIA.
The research firm identified US as the largest market for such food packaging, followed by Europe, but predicted that the Asia-Pacific region would post the fastest growth from 2009 to 2017.
Demographic changes also meant a there would be a rising number of older consumers across the world who preferred smaller and single-portion packaging options, GIA added.
New food packaging technologies – compostable biodegradable films, easy-opening and re-sealable packaging – and rising consumer use of microwave ovens were also identified as growth drivers.