The Foodservice Packaging Institute, Fall Church, Va., released its 2018 State of the Industry Survey, which shows steady industry volume and profit growth in 2017. Survey respondents also predict this trend will continue in 2018.

“Each year, we ask our members and non-members to share their insights on issues directly related to the foodservice packaging industry,” says Lynn Dyer, president. “Based on their feedback, the 2018 State of the Industry Survey projects another positive year for the foodservice packaging industry and our members.”

Results compiled for the survey included input from raw material and machinery suppliers, converters and foodservice distributors and operators. Over 75% of foodservice packaging manufacturers and suppliers reported volume growth and more than 40% reported profit growth last year.

Respondents foresee that the greatest areas for market expansion are in the fast-casual and quick-service sectors. This is due to their continued popularity and ability to adapt to an evolving consumer with offerings such as home delivery, e-commerce solutions and the desire for a quick food experience that’s not “fast food.” Respondents also anticipate tapping into grocery stores because of improved food quality and meals-to-go, either ready-made or make-at-home kits, as these stores try to compete with fast-casual and quick-service restaurants.

More than 80% of the respondents expect volume expansion and nearly 65% expect profit growth in 2018. Foodservice operators who responded also saw increased sales and were optimistic that this trend would continue.

The positive indicators for growth in 2018 include over 60% of the North American manufacturers planning corporate expansion through construction of new facilities, expansion of current facilities and mergers and acquisitions, and more than 80% of North American converters who plan to purchase machinery in 2018.

The survey results also identified five common challenges facing the industry:

  1. Increasing raw material costs.
  2. Lack of qualified labor.
  3. Increasing government legislation/regulation.
  4. Public perception of packaging or foodservice packaging as “waste.”
  5. Recovery/end-of-life options for foodservice packaging.

“We love to see the continued growth and optimism within our industry. What these challenges remind us is that businesses still need materials and labor to be successful and to grow,” says Dyer.