U.S. demand for foodservice disposables is expected to approach $20 billion in 2017, according to www.rnrmarketresearch.com. Growth will be driven by accelerated foodservice revenue increases relative to the performance of the recession-impacted 2007-2012 periods, reflecting an improved outlook for consumer spending in tandem with continuing economic expansion, which will drive increased frequency of restaurant visits.

Packaging products to grow fastest
Packaging products will achieve the fastest gains through 2017, driven by above average revenue increases in the limited-service segment, which accounts for more than half of restaurant revenues but generates a much higher share of foodservice disposables demand, according to the research. Expanding menu options in limited-service restaurants, longer hours to include breakfast and snacking beyond traditional meal times and ongoing development of new restaurant concepts will also bode well for related packaging. The popularity of takeout food from full-service restaurants and greater prepared food options from retail stores will also fuel packaging demand. Packaging that maintains freshness and enhances the visual appeal of prepared foods will be a consideration for packaging demand in the retail market.

Robust advances are anticipated for degradable packaging and serviceware from a relatively small base, the result of heightened prominence of environmental issues, efforts by foodservice establishments to differentiate themselves, and heightened local bans on foamed polystyrene disposables, according to the research.

Eating & drinking places to remain dominant market
Eating and drinking places, which held two-thirds of foodservice disposables demand in 2012, are by far the largest market for foodservice disposables. While growth in this market will be fueled by a continuing recovery in the broader economy as well as healthy prospects for limited-service restaurants and changes in the mix of menu items, the retail and vending market will represent the fastest-growing disposables market through 2017. Gains will be driven by the growing focus on prepared foods in supermarkets, warehouse clubs, and convenience stores, as retailers strive to differentiate themselves and regain some share of sales that have been lost to restaurants.

Fast casuals advancing
Among restaurant types, fast casual restaurants will record the fastest advances as they continue to gain share from quick-service restaurants and casual dining restaurants. Also driving the popularity of fast casual restaurants is their appeal to two important demographics: Aging baby boomers and younger baby boomers.

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