Fast food packaging

The US perspective

Nina Happonen, VP of sales at Metsä Board Americas, answered three questions on the US market.

Nina Happonen

Nina Happonen

1. What’s going on in the food service sector in the USA?

The packaged food and beverages market is quite large, and continues to grow in the US. Consumer demand for safe, healthy, environmentally responsible packaging is increasing.

Trends come and go, and consumers are continually changing the way they view, interact with and utilise packaging further. It’s important to keep up with packaging market trends and reflect the changing needs of the consumer in your products. Companies that stay on top of these changing trends have a competitive advantage.

2. What are the biggest challenges you see in the US market?

Consumers are becoming increasingly more aware of global environmental issues and are changing their buying habits accordingly. Understandably, consumers don’t want to pay any more than they have to for their packaged goods, which is why cost is and will be one of the key packaging market trends.

There is also more demand now for transparency between manufacturers and consumers as a result of recent food misuses in the industry. The origins of products need to be traceable back to their source to re-establish trust throughout the supply chain. Understanding how commitment to sustainability can be communicated in an engaging way on the packaging is the key to attracting, relating to, and keeping consumers. It seems that sustainability is no longer an optional add-on. It’s an essential part of business planning for those in the packaging industry.

3. Do you feel eating is becoming more hectic and on-the-go?

Increasingly busy lifestyles mean that consumers are seeking ease of use. Smaller, lighter and easily disposable packaging makes consumption on-the-go more efficient. There’s a growing tendency for consumers to make purchases when they are running out of a specific product, as opposed to taking an in advance, ‘pantry-loading’ approach, which has been the norm in the past. Smaller and easy-to-carry packaging therefore holds the greatest potential for these money-conscious, last minute shoppers.

Demand for food service disposables in the US is projected to increase 3.9 per cent per year to USD 21.9 billion (EUR 24.7 billion) in 2019. Packaging products, including clamshells, paperboard cartons and other containers, are expected to register the fastest growth among the major product types. Meanwhile, growth in the quick service restaurant (QSR) segment – the largest single outlet for disposables – will be restrained by the shift in consumer preference away from traditional fast food.
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