foodservice packaging

Top trends in foodservice packaging

By Lynn Dyer

Changing habits and new dining options are just two of the factors that affect foodservice packaging — those single-use cups, containers, bags, wraps and cutlery used by restaurants and other establishments that offer prepared foods and beverages.

These items, made from materials like paper, plastic and aluminum, allow foodservice operators to serve their customers in a sanitary, convenient and economical manner. More than 90 per cent of foodservice operators use foodservice packaging, making it an integral part of their business.

Foodservice packaging products are more than just a convenience. Properly stored and handled, they protect public health and minimize the opportunity for food contamination, which helps keep food safe and consumers healthy.

Every year, the Foodservice Packaging Institute, the leading authority for the North American foodservice packaging industry, conducts a survey to gather information about the latest trends in the industry. The survey collects opinions from companies throughout the entire North American foodservice packaging supply chain, including raw material suppliers, machinery suppliers, converters, foodservice distributors and foodservice operators. The results of this survey are compiled to create FPI’s annual Trends Report.

“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,” said Lynn Dyer, FPI’s 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.”

Here are the top five trends in foodservice packaging:

  1. 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 increasingly popular, partially due to Millennials’ “text rather than talk” preference. Meal delivery programs are gaining traction, too, requiring new and innovative foodservice packaging.
  2. Changes in preparation and distribution of meals are driving other trends, such as an increased need for tamper-evident packaging. This offers a visible solution for foodservice operators and their customers concerned about the integrity of their foods and beverages.
  3. Gas stations and convenience stores, traditionally not viewed as foodservice, are growing in the space. Grocery stores are increasingly adding to their foodservice footprint, moving beyond traditional deli and bakery with café style restaurants, offering an elevated experience beyond the aisles of non-perishable goods.
  4. Environmentally friendly, sustainable, recyclable and compostable packaging is moving beyond trendy to now being a regular part of doing business. Light-weighting and mineral filler usage in packaging is gaining interest, which can help both environmental and economic goals of companies and consumers alike.
  5. Another key industry shift revealed in the survey is the addressing of common concerns across multiple industry segments. Foodservice packaging sectors are communicating more with each other, thus paying more attention to shared links, challenges and opportunities in the entire supply chain.

FPI encourages the responsible use of all packaging through promotion of its benefits and members’ products. If you’re interested in joining FPI to stay current on foodservice packaging, the association offers a free affiliate membership to foodservice operators and distributors. Simply send an email with your request and contact information to or visit

About the author:

Lynn Dyer is President of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, the trade association for the North American foodservice packaging industry. At FPI, she advocates for the interests of the industry and champions its efforts to expand recycling and composting of foodservice packaging. Prior to joining FPI in 1998, Lynn worked with the European Food Service & Packaging Association (now Pack2Go Europe) in Brussels, Belgium. For more about FPI, visit or email

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