The Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI), Falls Church, Va., released its 2016 Trends Report, which reveals key industry shifts driven by the generational influence of Millennials.

“Each year, our trends report searches for common threads found throughout the entire foodservice packaging value chain. This year more than ever, it’s hard to deny the influence of the Millennial generation on the foodservice packaging industry,” says Lynn Dyer, president. “As such a large, influential piece of the population, the opinions and ideals of Millennials are a defining factor, leaving an impression on the industry.”

Millennials desire food that is increasingly convenient and less time-intensive. Responses this year showed an uptick in the grab-and-go sector. Ordering online through mobile applications or via automated in-store ordering stations is also increasingly popular, partially due to Millennials’ “text rather than talk” preference. Meal delivery programs are gaining traction too, requiring new and innovative foodservice packaging.

Changes in preparation and distribution of meals are driving other trends, such as an increased interest in food safety and tamper-evident packaging, which offers a visible solution for foodservice operators and their customers concerned about the integrity of their foods and beverages.

This year’s report also highlights the fact that “environmentally-friendly,” “sustainable,” “recyclable” and “compostable” packaging are moving beyond trendy to now being a regular part of doing business. “Light-weighting” and mineral filler usage is gaining interest, which can help both environmental and economic goals of companies and consumers alike.

Another key industry shift revealed in the survey is the common concerns addressed across multiple industry segments. Foodservice packaging sectors are communicating more with each other, thus paying more attention to the similar links, challenges and opportunities in the entire supply chain.

“The increasing communication and collaboration between the supply chain partners will result in the continued evolution of the foodservice packaging industry to better support the needs of foodservice operators and their customers — no matter who they are today and in the future,” Dyer says.

The FPI survey collects opinions from companies throughout the foodservice packaging supply chain, including raw material and machinery suppliers and packaging manufacturers, distributors and operators. The first section compiles direct comments and insights by industry players. The second section provides high-level trends in the foodservice packaging industry based on FPI staff analysis of member submissions, as well as FPI’s general industry observations and newsletter entries.