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Corrugated and paperboard demand to rise 2.6%

April 27, 2016  By Cindy Macdonald

Demand for corrugated and paperboard boxes in the U.S. is forecast to increase 2.6 per cent per year to US$41.2 billion in 2020, as both nondurable goods manufacturing and retail sales post healthy gains, according to The Freedonia Group.

E-commerce and retail-ready applications will drive growth for corrugated boxes while folding carton demand will be sustained by the foodservice, carryout and pharmaceutical markets, Freedonia analysts say.

The group predicts value gains for corrugated and paperboard boxes will be stimulated by the increased adoption of value-added features such as high-quality printing, easy-open tear strips, and special coatings. Volume growth, they say, will be held back by lightweighting trends and market maturity.


These and other trends are presented in Corrugated & Paperboard Boxes, a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Freedonia says corrugated and solid fiber boxes will continue to hold the largest share of demand, comprising 74 per cent of the total in 2020 and reaching US$30.5 billion on growth of 3.0 per cent per year. Corrugated boxes benefit from advantages in terms of cost and strength capabilities and will remain the default shipping container throughout the foreseeable future, despite some competition from reusable containers, flexible packaging, and film covers, the report states.

“Moreover, as the e-commerce market continues to expand, so too will demand for boxes to ship products to consumers,” notes analyst Katie Wieser. Additionally, demand for shipping containers that can also act as retail displays will boost value growth as this application typically requires the use of high-quality printing and the integration of features that allow the box to be opened without tools.

Folding carton demand is forecast to increase 1.5 per cent per year to US$10.1 billion in 2020, posting slow growth as these containers face significant competition from flexible packaging formats such as stand-up pouches. However, the environmental advantages of folding cartons compared to foam or plastic clamshells for the restaurant carryout market will help to sustain gains, the report predicts. In addition, growing pharmaceutical output will boost demand for related packaging such as folding cartons.

Demand for set-up boxes is expected to expand 2.0 per cent per year to US$540 million in 2020, bolstered by continued growth in cosmetics and toiletries, and durable goods such as silverware and medical instruments.

To learn more, visit the report page.


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