Optimism Up in the Foodservice Packaging Industry

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Optimism Up in the Foodservice Packaging Industry

According to the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI)’s Foodservice Packaging Industry Surveys, optimism in the foodservice packaging industry has risen this year from last year. The Falls Church, Va.-based organization’s surveys examine the state of the industry among top manufacturers and their suppliers in North America and Europe, as well as operators and distributors.

One of the surveys found that 82 percent of foodservice packaging manufacturers in North America thought their sales volumes would be better this year than lastan increase of 40 percent from 2009. The surveys further found that 55 percent of North American manufacturers expect their profits to be better than last year, which comparable with last year’s expectations.

Although a worldwide economic recession is only gradually beginning to lift, survey respondents said that they think-quick service restaurants will experience solid growth in single-use packaging usage over the next five years, followed by supermarket/grocery stores.

“I think that this year’s findings indicate that manufacturers and their suppliers are benefiting from the fact that the foodservice packaging industry continues to be somewhat recession-resistant,” noted FPI president John R. Burke. “Despite the economy, respondents told us that they expect their sales volumes to rise in 2010. And, half of our manufacturing respondents said they were planning to expand in the year ahead, mainly through expansion of existing plants or mergers and acquisitions. This is a reflection of their optimism about the future of single-use foodservice packaging.”

Just over half of North American manufacturers responding to the surveys said they plan to purchase new machinery this year (with just under a quarter planning to buy used machinery). Further, almost all machinery suppliers, as well as raw material suppliers, expect 2010 to be the same or better as last year in regard to volume and profit.

Foodservice packaging manufacturers and their suppliers envision some challenges ahead — particularly in relation five issues that made the top 10 for both European and North American foodservice packaging industry respondents: increasing raw material costs, margin compensation, global economic recession recovery, public perception of packaging or foodservice packaging as “waste,” and development of new products in response to calls for “sustainable” packaging.

The foodservice packaging industry’s customers are also more optimistic this year than they were last year. Fifty-three percent of North American foodservice operators polled said they expect sales to be better this year, a slight lift from 2009. Among foodservice packaging distributors surveyed, 67 percent said they though 2010 would be an improvement over last year.

Especially interesting to the foodservice packaging industry was that almost half of operators expect their takeout (drive-through, carryout or delivery) sales to grow in 2010. Additionally, one-third of operators believe that their catering offerings will rise this year.