The Foodservice Packaging Institute’s 2015 Trends Report searches for common threads found throughout the entire foodservice packaging value chain—from raw material suppliers and packaging manufacturers to distributors and operators. This year’s report, the result of Falls Church, VA-based organization's annual Trends Survey, highlights industry opinions that largely focus on environmentally friendly packaging and customization techniques to differentiate products.

“When it comes to foodservice packaging and the materials used to manufacture them, interest in ‘sustainable,’ ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ options continue to be popular,” says Lynn Dyer, FPI president. “What’s notable this year is the overwhelming number of mentions related to compostable packaging. We create this Trends Report each year to help our members understand what’s driving sales, so they can take advantage of these opportunities and support the changing needs of their customers.”

Major trends covered in the 2015 FPI report include:

Packaging: Environmentally friendly or sustainable packaging remains a long-term overall trend. Specifically, compostable packaging was mentioned in an overwhelming number of responses. Other trends include the shift to a more natural look through the use of kraft paper over bleached paper to promote the belief that “brown is the new green.” Conversely, another trend includes an increase in graphics and color, as operators recognize the opportunity to promote their brand on packaging.

Raw materials: “Green” packaging is apparent in raw materials, as different resins and papers are trending based on both the real and perceived environmental advantages of those materials.

Machinery: In the machinery used to manufacture foodservice packaging, survey respondents expressed a desire for highly automated machines that run faster, more efficiently and at lower costs continues, but with little innovation in the industry.

Distribution: Consolidation remains a major trend in foodservice distribution—despite the halted merger of the two largest foodservice distributors—along with stock-keeping unit (SKU) rationalization and increased competition from small midsized distributors.

Operations: In a continued effort to stand out and differentiate themselves from competitors, foodservice operators are increasingly choosing customized food and beverage items, as well as their associated packaging. Other major trends include increased breakfast business, grab-and-go items and smaller portion sizes that reflect the consumer snacking trend.

FPI distributed the survey in September, collecting opinions from companies in the raw materials, machinery, packaging, distribution and operations sectors. The report contains two sections: The first lists direct comments and insights by industry players; the second compiles the data with additional insights from FPI staff.

The Trends Report is complimentary to FPI members. Nonmembers can view an executive summary online under FPI’s publications and reports, or purchase the report for $250. For more information, contact Natha Dempsey at