The US food industry is projected to grow at a steady rate of 2.9 percent CAGR through 2022, according to the just released 2016 Food Packaging Trends and Advances report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Of all the segments within the food industry, meat products and snack foods are anticipated to outperform other segments in the market with more than 3 percent growth. According to PMMI, the growth in these two segments is attributed to consumer demand for portion control and convenience options.

The US food industry trails the global market and, while North America is the largest global market across all food segments, the overall growth of the food industry, which includes food packaging, is being driven by emerging markets like Argentina, Brazil, China and India. Researchers at PMMI say global growth rates for most segments are double US growth rates, except for meat and related products (8.5 percent), and candy and confections (8 percent), which have higher rates of global growth compared to those of the United States.

In terms of food packaging innovations, many of those beginning to enter the US market are concepts already in use in other segments from countries around the world. PMMI says one trend meat manufacturers find exciting is a product with a film that opens during cooking which allows the meat to brown after a pre-determined period of time.

The most innovative food industry segments are:

Snack Foods: Recycled and biodegradable materials for salty snacks; stylish, vivid graphics and shapes for single-serve packs

Meat and Related Products: New films to keep meat fresher longer; active labels to sense when meat is past its expiration

Fruits and Vegetables: Clear, tactile films to make consumers pause and consider the product; more single-serve packaging

Pet Food: More recycled materials in packaging; single-serve containers to differentiate niche or premium products

Consumer demand continues to drive the industry, as noted in the current major packaging trends: convenience, flexibility, safety, sustainability and technology.

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