High demand for microwave packaging

Wednesday, 16 December, 2009

Demand for microwave packaging is projected to climb 7.0% annually to $2.4 billion in 2013, driven by consumer demand for convenient meal options, the ubiquitousness of microwave ovens and the rapid growth for foods developed specifically for microwave preparation. Moreover, improvements in package structures that enable foods to be heated and served in their packaging and innovations that overcome limitations of microwave ovens will continue to drive a steady stream of new product introductions. These and other trends are presented in Microwave Packaging, a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Frozen foods are, by far, the largest application for microwave packaging, accounting for nearly 60% of total demand in 2008. Through 2013, microwave packaging demand in frozen food uses is forecast to rise 6.1% per year to $1.3 billion. Beyond demographic and convenience factors, gains will be further assisted by heightened consumer interest in ethnic cuisines, the increased availability of organic frozen foods, and robust demand for steam-cooked vegetables. The last employ self-venting microwaveable pouches that result in improved taste and texture compared to conventional frozen vegetables.

Fresh prepared foods will represent the fastest growing application for microwave packaging through 2013, with demand expected to climb 11.2% annually to $450 million. Robust gains will be based on the convenience of fresh prepared foods and the perception that they are of higher quality than frozen and canned alternatives. Above-average growth is also anticipated in shelf-stable applications, boosted by quality improvements and the increased presence of single-serving, shelf-stable items designed to be heated in microwave ovens.

Below-average advances in snack food uses will be based on the maturity of microwave popcorn, one of the earliest microwave-specific packaging applications. Slow gains will also be the result of competition from other snack foods and safety concerns over flavouring and packaging coating substances. Double-digit growth in other applications will be propelled by substantial product development activity in microwaveable fresh-cut vegetables, reflecting trends towards healthier eating and strong sales of foods offering convenience in meal preparation.

Microwave Packaging (published 12/2009, 213 pages) is available from The Freedonia Group; email pr@freedoniagroup.com.

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