In addition to delivery and e-commerce trends, shifts in packaging materials and recycling were also tracked in the latest report from Foodservice Packaging Institute.

Delivery and e-commerce are two major new factors influencing the findings in this year’s Trends Report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

“Each year our Trends Report searches for common threads found throughout the entire foodservice packaging value chain. This year we discovered how focused the industry is on the demands of increased e-commerce and delivery services,” said Lynn Dyer, FPI’s president. “As delivery options rapidly expand and evolve, so must the packaging.”

Today’s consumers are experiencing what the report calls “nearly limitless” food delivery options, such as meal kits and delivery programs, prepared food couriered by third-party vendors, and take-out and delivery options from traditional dine-in foodservice establishments. These delivery options impact how foodservice packaging must perform. Consumers want meals to arrive hot, fresh and safe, along with being represented by the foodservice brand.

Changes in preparation and distribution of meals are driving other trends, such as a continued interest in tamper-evident packaging and food safety. Smart packaging concepts that are already in place on the retail side may soon find their place in foodservice delivery. Innovations like time and temperature indicators that help keep food fresh and safe could be applied to home-delivered meals. 

This year’s report shows respondents continue to voice a growing change in material types. This shift was previously due to growing regulatory and legislative pressures, but now stems from greater interest in recycling and composting foodservice packaging.

“Foodservice packaging will continue to evolve and change. Supply chain partners — from suppliers to converters to distributors and operators — will work together to develop products and services that meet customers’ needs while keeping performance, cost, branding and the environment in mind,” Dyer said.

Now in its ninth year, the Trends Report is FPI’s response to dozens of requests received throughout the year from media, analysts, conference organizers and others about the latest industry happenings. The FPI survey, sent to members in September, collected opinions from companies throughout the foodservice packaging supply chain, including raw material and machinery suppliers, packaging manufacturers, distributors and operators. The first section compiles direct comments and insights by industry players. The second section provides high-level trends in the foodservice packaging industry based on FPI staff analysis of member submissions, as well as FPI’s general industry observations and newsletter entries.

The Foodservice Packaging Institute 2017 Trends Report is complimentary to FPI members. Non-members may view an executive summary online under FPI’s publications and reports, or purchase the full report.

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