The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Falls Church, Va., conducted a study that reveals three key industry shifts:

It’s all about the beverages—and their packaging. Foodservice operators are turning to new and expanded beverage options to boost their bottom lines. That means paying more attention to beverage packaging. Polystyrene foam and single-wall paper cups have long dominated, but competition is growing in both the hot and cold beverage container categories. New product usage includes insulated double-wall paper cups, as well as insulated plastic cups made from polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Recycled content in both paper and plastic cups continues to grow rapidly, too.

Material expansion and contraction is taking place. Supply chain partners are considering the material options for foodservice packaging. With advances in research and development, new technologies, price fluctuations, environmental pressures and the increased supply of recycled materials, more material options exist in foodservice packaging than ever before. Increasing interest in composting and recycling of foodservice packaging are driving some material selections as well.

Size matters. Size continues to play a large role in the market, with smaller, single-serve items trending in restaurants. The top reasons include nutritional purposes, cost-cutting measures, gaining non-traditional day parts and catering to a growing consumer base that tends to “graze” throughout the day. Packaging plays an increasingly important role in supporting menu trends and consumer demands due to more competition and growth in the grab-and-go category, stronger interest from convenience stores and distribution channel changes.

Now in its fifth year, the Trends Report is broken into two sections: the first contains the results of a survey on trends in five key areas—foodservice packaging; raw materials used to make foodservice packaging; machinery used to convert foodservice packaging; foodservice distribution; and foodservice operations. The second section contains analysis from FPI staff based on members’ survey submissions, year-long industry observations and studying FPI’s Packaging Innovations and Insights.

“FPI’s Trends Report highlights how packaging innovates and adapts to the changing desires of the foodservice industry and consumers,” says Lynn Dyer, president of FPI. “Environmental and economic pressures are creating a competitive landscape in which all supply chain partners ultimately benefit.”