DAIRY/PACKAGING: <br />U.S. Dairy Sales, Packaging Innovation up Despite Economy

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DAIRY/PACKAGING: <br />U.S. Dairy Sales, Packaging Innovation up Despite Economy

According to the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s (PMMI) “Dairy Industry Market Research Study 2009,” released last month, U.S. dairy products saw an increase of 2 percent last year, despite an overall price rise of 9 percent and the negative impact of the economic recession.

Although the International Dairy Foods Association notes that dairy continues to be the fourth-fastest growing grocery segment in the United States, the $50 billion industry also faces such challenges as uncertain availability for raw materials and price fluctuations, which are likely to get worse in the coming years.

Additional findings of the PMMI study, which discusses the perspectives of 40 dairy processors, associations and suppliers, are as follows:

The U.S. dairy industry anticipates a production shift to the West Coast, with industry consolidation creating a greater number of mega-dairies (800-plus cows). Currently, 15 dairies of this size account for 68 percent of the U.S. dairy business

71 percent of dairy processors are likely to make capital expenditures for packaging equipment in the next 12 months despite the economic downturn, with an additional 16 percent planning to make packaging line modifications that might require machinery investments

Stronger dairy/vendor relationships are expected: 90 percent of survey respondents depend upon machinery builders to train operators, and 73 percent want suppliers to play a more consultative role from concept stage to installation

Primary and secondary packaging change drivers include considerations about the most economical and eco-friendly materials, customer requirements and improving efficiency to boost lower margins

Energy consumption is seen by dairy processors as the top method to achieve greater sustainability

Consumer demand for healthy, convenient and portable food is leading to new packaging formats, as well as industry segment growth

Arlington, Va.-based PMMI is a trade association with over 540 member companies that manufacture packaging and packaging-related converting machinery, commercially available packaging machinery components, containers, and materials in the United States and Canada.