Rigid Food Packaging

Published - Nov 2004| Analyst - Melvin Schlechter| Code - FOD039A
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Report Highlights

  • The plastic rigid food packaging market in North America reached about 10.3 billion pounds in 2003 and is expected to increase to more than 13.6 billion pounds by 2008 at an AAGR (average annual growth rate) of 5.8%.
  • PET is the dominant resin at 5.8 billion pounds and its use is rising faster than the total market, at an AAGR of 6.4%.
  • HDPE, polystyrene and polypropylene come next, with the latter rising at an AAGR of 7.3%.
  • Polycarbonate, while representing a small piece of the pie, will rise the fastest at an AAGR of 7.4%, reaching 100 million pounds in 2008.
  • New technologies are an important growth factor especially in the areas of barrier bottles and dual-ovenable packaging.


Plastic rigid food packaging “containers,” which consume over 10 billion pounds of plastic, consist of a wide array of structures such as bottles, trays, tubs, jars, cans, etc. that are fairly easily identified. Other types of containers cover a wide spectrum of structures including containers for refrigerated, frozen and roomtemperature foods in a variety of shapes and thicknesses.

Examples include clamshells, along with microwavable and dual-ovenable packages. Many of these packages are made from polymer foams as well as solid plastics that can be injection molded, blow molded or thermoformed. There also is a foodservice element of the plastic rigid food packaging market that includes bowls, cups, lids/closures/caps, etc.

This BCC study analyzes the specific markets for a wide array of structures that can be blow- or injection molded or thermoformed. It also considers the nonplastic competitive scene made up of glass, metal and paperboard, and assesses new technologies led by barrier bottles that maintain the proper balances of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The report provides market data for North American consumption of plastics in rigid food packaging and discusses a clear trend towards sourcing plastics offshore, especially from Asia and more specifically, from China. This trend has been most prominent with plastic films. However, more recently commodity plastic pellets, powders, etc. have been imported in greater amounts.


The report contains:

  • Coverage of the key resins used in rigid food packaging by major applications, including bottles, dairy and meat/deli, molded/thermoformed containers, prepared food and foodservice
  • Quantitative assessment of individual plastics used with forecasts for the North American market through 2008
  • Rationales for trends within each market sector
  • Analysis of the roles of the many companies involved, such as molders, thermoformers and converters
  • Discussion of industry structure
  • Impact of recycling and other critical issues confronting the industry.


A comprehensive review and analysis was undertaken of literature related to the industry which included trade industry articles and company literature. This was followed by interviews with key participants in the industry for their assessment of the present and future scenario of the rigid plastic food packaging market.


Research analyst Mel Schlechter has over 30 years in the chemical industry, and specializes in plastics market research. He has been with BCC for over 10 years. Mr. Schlecter holds B.S. degree in chemistry, an M.S. in organic chemistry and an M.B.A. in marketing.

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