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US Food Packaging Trends market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Food Packaging Trends market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • The importance of packaging is clear, just not to consumers
  • Changes in shopping and eating habits usher in packaging updates
  • Plastic leads food launches, concerns

Covered in this report

For the purposes of this report, Mintel will cover trends in food packaging, including all packaging types commonly used for shelfstable, refrigerated, and frozen food items. In addition, food labelingand claims are discussed, particularly as they relate to themesapplicable to the report.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Beth Bloom, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Packaging innovation continues to drive product launch activity. Between May 2018-April 2019, a third of food launches carried new packaging claims. While consumers don’t necessarily recognize the impact packaging plays on product choice, the important factors they seek when shopping, such as freshness and convenience, are strongly impacted by packaging design. Despite the fact that consumers recognize the importance of environmental responsibility, few prioritize sustainability in their food choic "Beth Bloom
Associate Director - Food & Drink

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • The importance of packaging is clear, just not to consumers
            • Figure 1: Top three factors important in food/drink purchase, March 2019
          • Changes in shopping and eating habits usher in packaging updates
            • Figure 2: Share of food launches, by pack type, 2015-19
          • Plastic leads food launches, concerns
            • Figure 3: Share of food launches, by packaging material, 2015-19
          • The opportunities
            • Assuring (and conveying) freshness will be key to resonating with shoppers
              • Figure 4: Packaging elements that impact product choice, March 2019
            • Brands must take the lead on sustainability to stand apart from the pack, save the world
              • Figure 5: Environmental responsibility, March 2019
            • The future of packaging is minimal
              • Figure 6: Sustainability habits, March 2019
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • New packaging leads food launch type
                • Snack popularity necessitates packaging updates
                  • Online shopping requires/drives packaging innovation
                    • Concern for the environment trails behind other causes
                    • Market Breakdown

                      • New packaging leads food launch type
                        • Figure 7: Share of food launches, by launch type, 2015-19*
                      • Snacks lead new packaging launches
                        • Figure 8: Share of new packaging food launches, by category, 2015-19
                      • Snack packaging redesign puts a focus on ingredients
                        • Plugging into portability
                        • Market Factors

                          • Snackers can’t stop, won’t stop
                            • Figure 9: Snacking frequency, January 2015 and November 2018
                          • eCommerce grocery shopping will be a game changer
                            • Figure 10: Approach to grocery shopping by category, February 2019
                          • Food waste and the environment are hungry for more action
                            • Figure 11: Consumer donation and support of causes, net donation and support, April 2018
                          • FDA initiatives will require packaging updates
                          • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                            • Pouches continue to grow; prepared meals increase tray activity
                              • Plastic leads food launches, consumer concerns
                                • Consumers take to whimsy
                                  • The future of packaging is minimal
                                  • What’s Working?

                                    • Pouches continue to grow; prepared meals increase tray launches
                                      • Figure 12: Share of food launches, by pack type, 2015-19
                                    • Plastic leads food launches, consumer concerns
                                      • Figure 13: Share of food launches, by packaging material, 2015-19
                                    • Whimsy for the win
                                    • What’s Struggling?

                                      • Environmental packaging claims are moving in the wrong direction
                                        • Figure 14: Share of food launches, by packaging related claims, 2015-19
                                      • See-through not always seen as appealing
                                      • What’s Next?

                                        • Visual times require more visual representations
                                          • Connected packaging
                                            • Brands need to take the lead on sustainability
                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                              • The importance of packaging is clear, just not to consumers
                                                • Consumers look to packaging for freshness
                                                  • Metal and plastic tubs occupy a middle ground of functionality
                                                    • Packaging occupies important role in meat purchases
                                                      • Consumers aren’t prioritizing environmental responsibility
                                                        • Consumers want to be rewarded for sustainability
                                                        • Important Factors in Food and Drink Choice

                                                          • Consumers don’t recognize the importance of packaging, but value its features
                                                            • Figure 15: Top three factors important in food/drink purchase, March 2019
                                                        • Important Packaging Elements

                                                            • Figure 16: Packaging elements that impact product choice, March 2019
                                                          • Portability is important to young consumers
                                                            • Figure 17: Packaging elements that impact product choice, by age, March 2019
                                                          • Pairing freshness with recyclability can boost product interest
                                                            • Figure 18: TURF Analysis – Packaging elements that impact product choice, March 2019
                                                            • Figure 19: Table - TURF Analysis – Packaging elements that impact product choice, March 2019
                                                        • Perceptions of Food Packaging Formats

                                                          • Utilitarian metal and plastic tubs need a makeover
                                                            • Figure 20: Correspondence Analysis – Symmetrical map – Perceptions of food packaging formats, March 2019
                                                            • Figure 21: Perceptions of food packaging formats, March 2019
                                                        • Importance of Packaging by Food Category

                                                          • Packaging has strongest impact on meat purchases
                                                            • Figure 22: Importance of packaging across food categories, March 2019
                                                        • Sustainability Habits

                                                          • Consumers aren’t prioritizing environmental responsibility
                                                            • Figure 23: Food packaging statements - frequency, March 2019
                                                            • Figure 24: Food packaging statements - frequency, by age, March 2019
                                                            • Figure 25: Food packaging statements – HH income, March 2019
                                                          • Brands will need to step up their focus on sustainability
                                                            • Figure 26: Sustainability habits, March 2019
                                                          • Women are strong targets for reusing packaging
                                                            • Figure 27: Sustainability habits - current, by gender, March 2019
                                                          • Only half of young consumers are recycling
                                                            • Figure 28: Sustainability habits, by age, March 2019
                                                          • Food packaging gets recycled more than beverage and household products
                                                            • Figure 29: Food packaging statements – what you’re recycling, March 2019
                                                        • Sustainability Concepts of Interest

                                                          • Consumers want to be rewarded for sustainability
                                                            • Figure 30: Sustainability concepts of interest, March 2019
                                                          • Young consumers are more interested in sustainable packaging
                                                            • Figure 31: Sustainability concepts of interest, by age, March 2019
                                                          • More than half of consumers are interested in loop programs
                                                            • Figure 32: Loop program interest, March 2019
                                                          • Younger consumers are particularly interested in loop programs
                                                            • Figure 33: Loop program interest, by age, March 2019
                                                        • Sustainability Education

                                                          • Brands could boost their on-pack sustainability communication
                                                            • Figure 34: Sustainability education, March 2019
                                                          • On-pack is important information source for sustainability shoppers
                                                            • Figure 35: Sustainability education - sustainability, March 2019
                                                          • Social media is key in communicating sustainability to young shoppers
                                                            • Figure 36: Sustainability education, by age, March 2019
                                                        • Environmental Responsibility

                                                          • Only half of consumers claim responsibility for environmental friendliness
                                                            • Figure 37: Environmental responsibility, March 2019
                                                          • Personal responsibility even lower among younger respondents
                                                            • Figure 38: Environmental responsibility, by age, March 2019
                                                          • Low income HHs least likely to claim personal responsibility
                                                            • Figure 39: Environmental responsibility, by HH income, March 2019
                                                          • Respondents limited by time may feel guilty
                                                            • Figure 40: Environmental responsibility, by barriers to sustainability, March 2019
                                                        • Sustainability Statements

                                                          • Sustainability has closer ties with planet than with personal health
                                                            • Figure 41: Food packaging statements - motivation, March 2019
                                                          • Packaging not strongly linked with environmental responsibility
                                                            • Figure 42: Food packaging statements - sustainability, March 2019
                                                        • Barriers to Sustainability

                                                          • Cost is the strongest barrier to sustainability
                                                            • Figure 43: Barriers to sustainability, March 2019
                                                        • Food and Drink Shopper Segmentation

                                                              • Figure 44: Food/drink shopper segmentation, February 2019
                                                            • Quality Seekers (34%)
                                                              • Figure 45: Profile of Quality Seekers, February 2019
                                                            • Adventure Eaters (34%)
                                                              • Figure 46: Profile of Adventure Eaters, February 2019
                                                            • Time Savers (17%)
                                                              • Figure 47: Profile of Time Savers, February 2019
                                                            • Value Chasers (15%)
                                                              • Figure 48: Value Chasers, February 2019
                                                            • Implications of food/drink consumer segments on food packaging
                                                              • Freshness assurance is a win for Time Savers
                                                                • Figure 49: Packaging elements that impact product choice, by food and drink consumer segmentation, March 2019
                                                              • Quality Seekers are harsh critics of premium packaging cues
                                                                • Figure 50: Perceptions of food packaging formats - premium, by food and drink consumer segmentation, March 2019
                                                              • A third of Adventure Eaters choose products with minimal packaging
                                                                • Figure 51: Sustainability habits – currently do, by food and drink consumer segmentation, March 2019
                                                              • Cost informs priorities of Value Chasers
                                                                • Figure 52: Barriers to sustainability, food and drink consumer segmentation March 2019
                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                              • Data sources
                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                  • Correspondence analysis methodology
                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                      • Abbreviations