Continued Optimism in the Foodservice Packaging Industry

This year marks the 20th anniversary of FPI’s State of the Industry Report. It’s always amazing to us when we stop and look back at the history. We’ve done this survey for two decades, and, yet, it still provides a valuable snapshot of what today’s foodservice packaging industry looks like.

Each year during the first quarter, we send out the survey to FPI members as well as non-members within the industry. This allows us the viewpoint of folks we don’t always hear from, and gives non-member participants a chance to view the report. Most importantly, it gives us a look back at 2018 and ahead to 2019.

This year’s report doesn’t bring many earth-shattering insights, but rather shows that things remain generally positive. Nearly two thirds of foodservice packaging manufacturers and suppliers experienced growth in volume, while more than 45 percent reporting profit growth in 2018. This year, 76 percent of the industry expect volume expansion and 67 percent expect profit growth. Foodservice operators who responded also saw increased sales and were overwhelmingly optimistic that this trend would continue throughout 2019.

Sticking with the theme of continued optimism, more than 60 percent of the North American manufacturers reported another year of corporate expansion plans through construction of new facilities, expansion of current facilities, and mergers and acquisitions. And, more than 75 percent of North American converters also plan to purchase machinery in 2019.

Respondents overwhelmingly view the fast casual sector as the greatest area for market expansion because of the increased number of options, quality food offerings and value to their customers. New this year is that supermarkets / grocery stores and delivery services are also noted as opportunities for market expansion. This is due to the popularity of being able to grab products on-the-go or have them delivered. Respondents even noted convenience stores as an area of expansion as they try to compete with quick service restaurants and become an eating destination.

Maintaining a trend from last year is that North American converter and supplier respondents have varied opinions on the challenges facing the industry. What’s new this year is that environmental issues took center stage, showing up along with traditional business issues like labor and government legislation / regulation. This lets us know that the industry continues to face traditional business issues, but the increased public perception of packaging or foodservice packaging as “waste” and increased environmental activism is forcing them to consider and explore larger changes.

We’re looking forward to another good year for our industry. It’s always encouraging to see continued optimism and growth as the industry adapts to new and ever-changing challenges.


A huge thank you to the nearly 90 organizations that participated in this year’s survey. If you haven’t participated before, but are eligible (raw material or machinery supplier, converter, foodservice operator or foodservice distributor), please take part next year. We recognize that it’s a time commitment on your end, but your responses make the survey results even more meaningful. If you’d like more information or would like to be on our list for next year, send me an email.

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