Demand for rigid plastic food containers is expected to increase 4.2% per year through 2022, to $7.7 billion, according to a study released by The Freedonia Group, Cleveland, Ohio. Gains will be by far faster than paperboard, metal or glass containers, and will continue to take share from other products.

The study, “Food Containers in the US, 11th Edition,” outlines growth for rigid plastic containers will be driven by characteristics such as lightweight, low cost, crush- and shatter-resistance and design flexibility and graphics capabilities.

Further gains will be limited by competition from flexible plastic containers, particularly pouches, which offer additional source reduction and convenience advantages.

The largest market for rigid plastic food containers will remain in the dairy industry, due to the suitability of plastic for all sizes of yogurt, including bottles for drinkable yogurt. These products will benefit from increased awareness of protein and probiotics. Plastic containers are also widely used to package sour cream, butter and some cheese products.

Fresh produce will also represent significant large demand growth through 2022, a result of the increased use of plastic clamshells for small and delicate items, previously sold loose, in bags or in baskets.