News 388 views update:Mar 22, 2010

US: case-ready poultry packaging increasing

An expansion in US meat, poultry and seafood production and a continuing shift to case-ready packaging by retailers will be the main drivers in packing for the sectors topping $9bn by 2013, according to a new study.

The Freedonia Group's report Meat, Poultry and Seafood Packaging said demand will also be boosted by changes in packing practices – such as the increasing prevalence of meat, poultry and seafood items in smaller, more convenient sizes and expansion of product ranges.

Raw material prices

While demand for packing in the meat, poultry and seafood sectors is expected to see annual growth of 3.5% during the review period, the value gains will slow compared to those recorded in the 5 years to 2008 thanks to a moderation in raw material prices for such commodities as metal, plastics and paper, predicted the authors.

Flexible versus rigid packing

Demand for flexible packaging will continue to outstrip rigid packaging – climbing 4.4% annually to reach $4 bln in 4 years. Part of this growth will be driven by buoyant prospects for high barrier film pouches as a rising proportion of meat is set to be marketed in case-ready packaging. Flexible packing will also benefit from further penetration of retort pouches into traditional can applications, forecasts the study.

By contrast, rigid packing will experience only sluggish gains as a result of the maturity in the large corrugated box segment and declines in the metal can sector. However, the period will also be characterised by healthy growth for plastic trays and containers.

In the meat segment, poultry will outperform beef thanks to its lower cost, “favourable nutritional profile and versatility”, said the report. Ready-to-eat (RTE) applications, such as rotisserie chickens, will further spur strong performance.

Although seafood will continue to hold a significantly smaller market share than meat or poultry, consumer consumption will climb thanks to revised US Government nutritional guidelines and seafood’s perceived health benefits.

Format forecasts

While the 2 major markets of the last 5 years, fresh and frozen, and processed, will demonstrate continued leadership in the meat, poultry and seafood segments, the RTE sector is predicted to post the fastest advances during the period, according to the report. Driven by the availability of prepared foods in retail venues, the RTE market will rise from $365 mln in 2008 to $470 mln by 2013 – an annual growth rate exceeding 5%.

Meanwhile, growth in the 2 largest segments will see a more modest rate of growth of 3.5% year-on-year. Demand for fresh and frozen meat, poultry and seafood will climb from $4.49 bln in 2008 to $5.33 bln in 2013. This will be aided by the “growing importance of higher-value case-ready and modified atmosphere packaging to extend shelf life”, said the study.

Processed food in these areas will also increase from $2.89 bln to $3.4 bln over the same period, thanks to regular product introductions of convenience-orientated items such as sliced luncheon meats in resealable tubs.

Source: Food Production Daily

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The report

Natalie Berkhout

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