Global demand for food-contact packaging, according to Hanover Research, will $252 billion USD in 2013. North American demand takes up a healthy $54 billion chunk of those sales.
The food metal can has long been king, but hot on its heels is the aseptic carton. Intelligence outfit Zenith International predicts global demand for aseptic packaging will hit $333 billion by 2016; while Europe and Asia are seeing most of the growth, the US market could likely start catching up.
Beatriz Callanta, marketing communication manager for SIG Combibloc Inc., told FoodProductionDaily.com that a number of factors are impacting the shift in packaging preference and purchasing.
“Aspects such as consistently good product quality, modern design and market-focused flexibility play an important role particularly in respect of changing trends and the dynamic consumer behavior,” she said. “Just as crucial is ease of use: packages must be convenient to use, at home and when out and about.”
Tim Kirchen, head of marketing and business development for SIG Combibloc North America, said this shift in behavior is especially apparent in the US, where consumer perception of food packaging is different from what it was even just five years ago.
“More and more, consumers are beginning to understand that packaging not only has a protective function, but it should also be a sound and workable choice in commercial and environmental respects,” he said.
Some of these factors interrelate, Kirchen said. For example, the aging population and increase of single-person households are contributing to surging interest in single-serve and convenience packaging, and rising awareness of environmental issues intersect at a desired to prevent food waste.
“This is where aseptic carton packs for foods and beverages come into play," he said, adding that shoppers are increasingly attracted by the carton’s light weight, ease of storage, and product-protecting ability.
The consumer is not the only individual whose interest is piqued by carton packaging. Food processing companies and packaging partners find the ability of aseptic cartons to protect product appealing, as they do processing and filling methods that are relatively gentle on the product inside.
Brand owners also are turning to aseptic carton packaging in increasing numbers. Campbell Co. has launched a significant number of soups in cartons, and private-label lines like Target’s Archer Farms are broadening their carton offerings on store shelves.
Finally, Callanta told FPD, retailers are keen on aseptic carton packs for a number of reasons.
“Aseptic carton packs are convenient to store, handle and dispose due to their lightweight and square design,” she said. “Their functional shape allows for a billboard effect on the retail shelves.
Kirchen and Callanta predict that American attraction to aseptic cartons will increase into the future. They said we should expect to see increased expansion of tomato products, high-end soups, juices and other categories.