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Foodservice trends and predictions for 2023

The foodservice packaging industry is a fast-paced sector responding to new consumer demands for sustainable alternatives to navigating a range of incoming government legislation.

For years, foodservice packaging suppliers have adapted to these evolving requirements to ensure they serve food-to-go outlets such as restaurants, takeaways, and, more recently, supermarkets with functional, compliant, and innovative solutions.

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Easyfairs Packaging Innovations is proud to partner with the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) for the first of many Foodservice Packaging Zones at its Birmingham NEC event from February 15th to 16th 2023. Within this dedicated area, visitors will access a wealth of Foodservice packaging expertise and product innovations developed in response to key market trends. Exhibitors such as Graphic Packaging International and Futamura will showcase their extensive product ranges, including their latest innovations for the foodservice industry. While compliance service provider, Ecosurety, will be on hand to support visitors with expert advice on compliance and the UK recycling infrastructure. 

The February show is well placed for brand owners and manufacturers to observe the latest developments in packaging innovations for 2023. Easyfairs exhibitors have shed light on how the legacy of the pandemic has shaped the future of foodservice packaging and what trends we can expect to see grow.  Yoann Bouvet, Sales Director – Foodservice at Graphic Packaging International, said, “Now, more than ever, the foodservice sector relies on partners that offer flexibility and agility. Delivery-compatible foodservice packaging and the growing importance of fast and local supply are clear trends we have seen with our customers.”  

Bouvet continued, “Through the pandemic, we saw sustainability temporarily take a back seat; naturally, the sector needed to focus on maintaining essential supply. However, the sustainability conversation has returned to the top of the agenda for our customers, who are refocused on easy-to-recycle materials, such as our fibre-based solutions. The pandemic also brought hygiene and safety into sharp focus for businesses and consumers alike. This has driven an increase in customer enquiries about security features in packaging for delivery, and we expect this trend to continue throughout 2023. As a responsible industry partner, we have strived to continue to provide high-quality, sustainable, innovative and effective foodservice packaging to our consumers.” 

Bouvet concluded, “At Graphic Packaging, we recognise that progress can also be made through smaller contributions. We can collectively have a great impact by taking positive steps, however large or small, to contribute positively to the circular economy. We see the effects of such efforts in areas like new legislation, brand strategy and consumer demand. It is clear many people want to see progress; one role of the packaging industry is to offer sustainable packaging solutions that perform effectively and meet both brand and consumer expectations.” 

Andy Sweetman, Sales and Marketing Director at Futamura, said, “The entire packaging industry, including the foodservice packaging industry, should be commended for rising to the challenges faced during the pandemic. Despite those uncertain times, Futamura continued to see demand rise for our renewable and certified compostable NatureFlex™ films.” 

Sweetman added, “Our packaging films are used throughout the foodservice industry as a compostable alternative to conventional, hard-to-recycle flexible plastics, especially for applications that are heavily contaminated by food, such as sandwich skillets, bags with windows, and lidding film for trays. With clear labelling, these materials can be easily collected and effectively processed with organic waste. A trend towards compostable materials in closed-loop environments, like festivals, sporting events, or university campuses, is evident. Whilst we also see significant consumer demand for compostable materials from high-street food-to-go establishments.” 

Sweetman closed, “The main consideration for foodservice packaging is always to ensure product protection. Therefore, choosing a material that will perform both technically and sustainably is key. There is no one-fits-all solution to sustainability. I expect to see an increased focus on material choices based on a best-fit application that considers product protection and end-of-life options. While certified compostable materials are not suitable for all products, they are ideal for difficult or impossible to recycle applications.” 

Louisa Goodfellow, Policy advisor at Ecosurety shares her insights, “Looking ahead, we expect to see a continued general move to recyclable solutions. However, we don’t expect that will be particularly pronounced until the EPR modulated costs are available, enabling producers to clearly see the costs associated with materials. I don’t expect any whole-scale moves to refill/ reuse formats just yet as, sadly, there are no signals from the government or policy that this is a priority. However, an increased granularity of packaging data collection this year, ahead of the October deadline, might incentivise packaging producers and manufacturers to look more closely at their formats. Additionally, the announcement that England will go ahead with a further single-use plastic ban in line with the rest of the UK should hopefully see reductions and new material formats in single-use plastic cutlery, etcetera.” 

To continue the discussion and meet with a host of industry experts, visitors are invited to the Foodservice packaging zone at Packaging Innovations. Graphic Packaging International will be available on stand K52, Futamura on stand K54, and Ecosurety on stand K48. 

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