Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the US Beverage Packaging Trends market including the behaviors, preferences, and habits of the consumer.

While there is a growing backlash against plastic bottles, consumers’ views toward sustainable packaging are nuanced. 78% of consumers say food and drink companies should limit their use of plastic packaging, yet a majority of consumers say sustainability plays a moderate to no role in their food/beverage purchase decision-making process. Brands must balance consumers’ desire for sustainability and low prices and frame the sustainable benefits of certain packaging types in terms consumers can understand.

The pandemic altered how consumers work, live and dine; packaging innovations can solve the needs of consumers in a postpandemic world. A recovering economy will boost the sales of larger pack sizes as consumers spend more for products that provide a better value. However, unemployment has not yet returned to prepandemic levels, and financially stressed consumers will be drawn to small, inexpensive pack sizes. Other pandemic-related factors will push consumers to either larger or smaller beverage pack sizes.

Beverage packaging must adapt to consumers’ shifting attitudes and behaviors; for instance, the growth in the use of refillable water bottles challenges the future of packaged water, and an increased demand for sustainability could result in sustainably conscious consumers extending the plastic backlash to other beverage categories.

Fortunately, consumers are largely positive toward the beverage industry’s embrace of rPET plastic bottles, as rPET garners the highest appeal of any plastic alternative beverage packaging type. Forward-thinking brands can experiment with bold sustainable packaging solutions and on-pack claims such as carbon footprint labels, as there is a strong overlap between eco-conscious consumers and food/drink trendsetters.

Read on to discover more about the US Beverage Packaging Trends consumer market, read our US Energy Drinks Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other US Drinks Market Research reports.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on beverage packaging.
  • How an unequal economic recovery creates opportunities for new packaging sizes.
  • Consumers’ views toward sustainable packaging.
  • Strides made by the beverage industry to increase the availability of recycled plastics.

Covered in this report

Brands include: Green Bag, Liquid IV, Waterdrop, Coca-Cola, KDP, PepsiCo, Milo’s, Starbucks, Chameleon, Voss, Evian, Aunt Fannie’s, Oatly, Just Salad, Flora, La Solea, DRY, H2OPS, Curious Elixirs, KOR Shots, Sol-ti, Hydrant, Joi, Black + Berry Living, Love Beauty and Planet, ZenWTR Essentials, Sam’s Club, Costco, Ocean Spray, Monster, Mtn Dew, Degree Inclusive, Wandering Bear, Chobani Coffee, Copper Cow Coffee, Drnxmyth, Jali Fruit Co.

Materials include: Plastic, glass, plant-based plastic, lightweight plastic, renewable/recycled plastic, aluminum, box/carton.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Caleb Bryant, a leading analyst in the Drinks sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Packaging can play an integral role in addressing consumers’ beverage needs in a post-pandemic America. The rise of remote work coupled with a recovering economy suggests growing consumer interest in large pack sizes, while brands must also promote small pack sizes to financially stressed consumers and consumers within smaller HHs. Consumers’ interest in sustainability will continue to shape the future of packaging, and while consumers are growing cool toward plastics, rPET plastics offer a solution popular among both consumers and leading beverage companies. Trendsetting beverage brands should strive for strong sustainability credentials such as the use of highly environmentally friendly packaging or carbon neutral certification as eco-conscious consumers often set future beverage trends.
Caleb Bryant, Associate Director of Food and Drink Reports
Caleb Bryant

Associate Director of Food and Drink Reports

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Impact of COVID-19 on beverage packaging
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on beverage packaging, June 2021
    • Challenges and opportunities
    • Sustainable packaging claims need to be simple
      • Figure 2: Interest in plastic bottle alternatives, by food and drink shopper segmentation, March 2021
    • Build on the popularity of aluminum and promote the premium association of glass
      • Figure 3: US non-alcoholic beverage launches, % of launches by select packaging material, 2017-20
    • Packaging can go big
      • Figure 4: Large format packaging attitudes, March 2021
    • Packaging can go small
      • Figure 5: Share of households by number of members, 2000-20
    • Bottled water backlash creates new packaging opportunities
    • Premium sustainable packaging can enhance brands
      • Figure 6: Premium beverage indicators, by food and drink shopper segmentation, March 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Packaging can appeal to consumers across the sustainability spectrum
    • Changes in where consumers live, HH sizes, and how they shop have packaging implications
    • Future of packaging is intertwined with the future of recycling
    • Increased demand for sustainability may result in expanded bottle bans
  4. Target Audience by the Numbers – Sustainability Segmentation

    • Segmenting consumers by outlook on sustainability
      • Figure 7: Cluster segmentation – Outlook on sustainability, January 2021
    • Sustainability Enthusiasts
      • Figure 8: Demographic profile – Sustainability Enthusiasts segment, January 2021
    • Sustainably Unsure
      • Figure 9: Demographic profile – Sustainably Unsure segment, January 2021
    • Sustainably Overwhelmed
      • Figure 10: Demographic profile – Sustainably Overwhelmed segment, January 2021
    • Sustainably Unengaged
      • Figure 11: Demographic profile – Sustainably Unengaged segment, January 2021
    • Sustainably Doubtful
      • Figure 12: Demographic profile – Sustainably Doubtful segment, January 2021
  5. Market Factors

    • Consumers are rockin’ the suburbs
    • US enters a baby bust and HHs get smaller
      • Figure 13: Households, by detailed type, 2000-20
      • Figure 14: Share of households by number of members, 2000-20
    • “Made from recycled plastics” – Easier said than done
    • Uneven economic recovery creates packaging opportunities
      • Figure 15: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, January 2010-February 2021
      • Figure 16: Unemployment, January 2019-March 2021
    • Acute supply chain disruptions create market challenges
    • Bottle bans could regain momentum
    • Pandemic supercharges the adoption of online shopping
      • Figure 17: In-store and online grocery shopping behaviors before and during pandemic, January 2021
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Go big and go small
    • Increased use of refillable water bottles creates opportunities for beverage concentrates
    • Use of aluminum expands, while glass needs to play catch-up
    • Innovative packaging design can solve needs for remote workers
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Carbon neutrality and ethical claims programs can mitigate environmental concerns
      • Figure 18: US non-alcoholic beverage launches, % of launches by select claims, 2017-20
      • Figure 19: Examples of beverages with plastic packaging and ethical-environmentally friendly and/or ethical-sustainable claims
    • Carbon labels are an emerging design trend
    • Companies experiment with paper packaging
    • Changes in alcohol drinking habits creates new opportunities for glass packaging
      • Figure 20: US non-alcoholic beverage launches, % of launches with glass packaging, 2012-20
    • Shots and concentrates offer convenience, functionality and sustainable benefits
      • Figure 21: Water consumption, December 2020
    • Aluminum shines
      • Figure 22: US non-alcoholic beverage launches, % of launches by select packaging type, 2017-20
      • Figure 23: US non-alcoholic beverage launches, % of launches by select packaging material, 2017-20
    • Combine sustainability with luxury
      • Figure 24: ZenWTR Essentials
      • Figure 25: Purchase intent score, ZenWTR vs all still packaged water
      • Figure 26: Attribute score, ZenWTR vs all still packaged water
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Time to think big…
    • And time to think small
    • Plastic can deliver security
    • Design packaging with inclusivity in mind
      • Figure 27: Population by age, 2016-26
    • Packaging can satisfy the needs of remote workers
      • Figure 28: Anticipated work situation for the remainder of 2021, April 2021
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Packaging enhances brands
    • Consumers want simple sustainability
    • Sustainable packaging claims must be tangible
    • Big and small packaging opportunities
  10. Sustainability Attitudes and Behaviors

    • Sustainability is primarily a nice to have food and drink attribute
      • Figure 29: Environmental responsibility and food and beverage purchases, March 2021
      • Figure 30: Environmental responsibility and food and beverage purchases, by select demographics, March 2021
    • Consumers want easy sustainable solutions
      • Figure 31: Sustainability behaviors, March 2021
    • Consumers expect brands to take responsibility for sustainability
      • Figure 32: Environmental responsibility, 2019 vs 2021, March 2019; March 2021
  11. Beverage Packaging Type Associations

    • Brands are responsible for educating consumers on packaging
      • Figure 33: Beverage packaging type associations, correspondence analysis, March 2021
      • Figure 34: Beverage packaging type associations, correspondence analysis, March 2021
  12. Interest in Plastic Bottle Alternatives

    • Recycled plastics garner high consumer interest
      • Figure 35: Interest in plastic bottle alternatives, by environmental responsibility attitudes, March 2021
    • Opportunity to enhance aluminum’s sustainability story
      • Figure 36: Interest in plastic bottle alternatives, by generation, March 2021
    • Forward-thinking brands can utilize less common sustainable packaging options
      • Figure 37: Interest in plastic bottle alternatives, by food and drink shopper segmentation, March 2021
  13. Packaging Attitudes

    • Brands can take steps to assuage consumers’ plastic concerns
      • Figure 38: Packaging attitudes, March 2021
    • Packaging can provide identity and information
      • Figure 39: Packaging attitudes, March 2021
    • Millennials drive interest in sustainable packaging
      • Figure 40: Packaging attitudes, any agree, by generation, March 2021
    • Parents want a balance between sustainability and value
      • Figure 41: Packaging attitudes, any agree, by parental status and age, March 2021
  14. Large Format Packaging Attitudes

    • Large packs can communicate both value and sustainability values
      • Figure 42: Large format packaging attitudes, March 2021
    • Large sizes are an immediate opportunity, but plan for the future
      • Figure 43: Large format packaging attitudes, March 2021
      • Figure 44: Large format packaging attitudes, March 2021
  15. Premium Beverage Indicators

    • Packaging can enhance a premium formulation
      • Figure 45: Premium beverage indicators, March 2021
      • Figure 46: Premium beverage indicators, by generation, March 2021
      • Figure 47: Premium beverage indicators, by age and HHI, March 2021
      • Figure 48: Premium beverage indicators, by food and drink shopper segmentation, March 2021
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

    • Correspondence Analysis Methodology

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