The 12th annual Trends Report from the Foodservice Packaging Institute revealed that industry opinions are largely focused on safe and sanitary foodservice packaging to meet consumer demand driven by COVID-19 concerns.
“In recent years, respondents were mainly focused on sustainability and environmental issues. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the attention has shifted to safety and sanitation,” said Natha Dempsey, president of FPI. “Seeking safe and sanitary solutions in the face of infectious disease are the exact reasons why foodservice packaging was created in the first place — to reduce touch points and keep our on-the-go food and beverages secure. All, of course, while providing the modern-day necessities of convenience and mobility.”
Respondents also revealed a major trend is the accelerated development of contactless foodservice. Apps, QR codes and online ordering increased in an effort to lessen touch points between patrons and employees. Packaging products that could create a barrier between individuals and food saw increased use, as restaurants looked for ways to reduce exposure. Foodservice packaging that is “tamper-evident” and “tamper-resistant” have seen gains; with those who had been manufacturing before the pandemic widening their offerings and new foodservice packaging companies placing products into the marketplace.
The survey also revealed that the prominent role foodservice packaging has played throughout the COVID-19 crisis has also led to a rise in misinformation due to the constant use of packaging. Restaurants being limited to take-out and delivery, coupled with many consumers being offered only one avenue for disposal as homes became the primary destination for work, home and play, has led to distortion about how much foodservice packaging is being produced, used and disposed of.
“Foodservice packaging products are being used out of necessity and restaurant survival. However, gains made in the carry-out and delivery space have not been offset by restaurant closures and reduced foot traffic,” said Dempsey.
“The results of the 2020 Trends Report show us that this has been an extremely unpredictable year,” said Dempsey. “But what has been predictable is emphasis on safe and sanitary packaging, which keeps people safe while they enjoy food and drink, wherever they may go or stay will continue to be the primary driver for the foodservice packaging industry.”