Growing Adoption of Multi-colored and Transparent Plastic Ready Meal Trays to Aid Market Growth
The food & beverage industry has experienced considerable changes over the past couple of decades. The rapidly changing consumer trends coupled with regulatory developments pertaining to various aspects of the industry have primarily shaped the modern-day food & beverages sector. Over the past decade, one of the most buzzing areas within the industry is packaging. The adoption of plastic ready meal trays has witnessed a gradual rise, particularly in the first half of the last decade. At present, despite consistent growth in the demand for plastic ready meal trays over the past few years, the overall prospects of the market point toward bleak and uncertain times due to growing focus on environment sustainability.
At present, the adoption of plastic ready meal trays is on the rise, owing to the rising demand for on-the-go and ready-to-eat food products, particularly in the urban regions. In addition, the overall growth of the online food delivery ecosystem around the world has also played a key role in increasing the demand for plastic ready meal trays. In addition, as consumers continue to seek convenient to-carry packaging solutions, the demand for plastic ready meal trays is projected to remain steady. However, the increasing pressure from regulatory bodies due to the disposal and recycling challenges put forward by black CPET trays could dent the growth of the global plastic ready meal trays market during the forecast period.
These factors coupled with growing emphasis on improving the presentation of plastic ready meal trays are likely to shape the growth trajectory of the global plastic ready meal trays market that is expected to attain a market value of ~US$ 700 Mn by the end of 2028.
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Environment-friendly Alternatives to Replace Non-recyclable Plastic Ready Meal Trays
Although by theory black CPET plastic ready meal trays are recyclable, in several regions of the world, sorting machines at the recyclable plant that primarily use near-infrared light to detect different colors lack the capability of detecting black plastic ready meal trays. Due to this, these trays are dumped into landfills. Manufacturers operating in the current plastic ready meal trays landscape are increasingly spending resources to tackle the challenges put forward by black plastic recycling.
As the quest for alternative packaging solutions intensifies, the demand for plastic ready meal trays of different colors is on the rise. In the current scenario, multi-colored or transparent plastic ready meal trays are in vogue and the trend is expected to continue over the forecast period. In addition, players operating in the plastic ready meal trays market landscape are also expected to focus on rolling out alternative solutions that are microwaveable and over proof. The growing demand for environment-friendly and sustainable packaging solutions is expected to accelerate innovations over the next few years.
Adoption of CPET Black Plastic Trays Likely to Decline, Fiber and Plant-based Alternatives to Gain Traction
Crystalline polyethylene terephthalate (CPET) black plastic trays are a viable alternative to aluminum trays. In addition, CPET trays are versatile and are largely used for ready meals. Despite offering several advantages, including versatility, durability, and convenience, the demand for CPET black plastic ready meal trays is likely to decline over the course of the forecast period. The growing demand for environment-friendly solutions and consistent pressure to explore the potential of fiber and plant-based alternatives is expected to hinder the overall growth of the plastic ready meal trays market.
Several small-medium sized companies operating in the plastic ready meal trays value chain are investing resources to improve the production quality and the overall environment sustainability quotient to comply with regulatory standards. In addition, as supermarkets, retailers, and food brands are increasingly being pressurized to minimize plastic packaging, ready meal trays made from plastic are likely to lose popularity. The ongoing pressure from the government as well as consumers has increased the demand for cost-efficiency plastic-free food packaging. Plant and fiber-based ready meal trays are likely to gain considerable traction. Apart from large-scale companies gradually shifting from plastic to other alternatives, a host of startups have entered the fray due to which, the plastic ready meal trays market is likely to witness sluggish growth toward the second half of the forecast period.
Demand for Online Food Delivery Platforms Grows amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Although consumers are increasingly becoming conscious of the overall hygiene levels, the demand for online food delivery platforms across the globe is expected to have a positive outlook during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to which, the demand for plastic ready meal trays is projected to increase. However, the demand for plastic ready meal trays is likely to remain lower than initial projections as restaurants in several regions of the world remain shut due to lockdown and restrictions on movement. Market participants should focus on product diversification and explore the potential of alternative materials as a packaging solution. Despite treading through the COVID-19 event at a steady pace, the plastic ready meal trays market is expected to witness the entry of alternative solutions, including transparent or multi-colored ready meal trays.
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The global plastic ready meal trays market is expected to grow at a moderate CAGR of 4.6% during the forecast period. The market growth is driven by high adoption of plastic ready meal trays from the restaurant sector, high demand for ready-to-eat meals, evolving consumer preferences, and growing interest toward transparent and multi-colored plastic ready meal trays. The market growth, however, is expected to be affected by regulatory changes and growing focus on environment-friendly packaging alternatives. Thus, market players should gradually invest resources in developing sustainable packaging solutions using fiber or plant-based materials to gain an edge in the global plastic ready meal trays market.
Plastic Ready Meal Trays Market: Overview
- According to Transparency Market Research’s latest report on the global plastic ready meal trays market for the historical period of 2015 - 2019 and forecast period of 2020 - 2028, the market is estimated to be driven by growing trend of online food ordering and rising adoption of convenient-to-carry packaging alternatives. The global plastic ready meal trays market is expected expand by 1.4x its current market value with a notable CAGR of 4.6% during next eight years.
Growing Adoption of Multi-coloured Recyclable Trays to Augment Market Growth
- Changing eating habits have led to a wider acceptance of ready-to-eat foods, driven by increased preference for comfort. As a result, demand for ready-to-eat food products is recording high growth in tier 1 cities, where a large segment of population tends to prefer take-outs or order online instead of cooking at home meals. Thus, sale of plastic ready meal trays is projected to witness significant growth of the online food delivery and food courts.
- Furthermore, recycling and disposal issues from use of black CPET trays are creating growth opportunities for clear and multi-colored plastic ready meal trays. Increasing demand for convenient-to-carry packaging alternatives for differentiating food products based on features such as kosher, medicinal, organic, and seasonal goods also drives the demand for ready-to-carry food trays on a global scale.
- Manufacturers of plastic ready meal trays are incorporating the use of omni-recyclable PET lids to maintain the freshness and high nutritional value of various products, which contributes greatly to the development of the plastic ready meal trays market
Ability to Offer Extended Shelf Life and Exceptional Barrier Properties Raise Popularity among End Users
- One of the key factors that increases the preference for plastic ready meal trays in the market is extended shelf life of food that these trays offer. A significant amount of food products spoil due to exposure to air and moisture, thereby increasing the need for effective packaging that can protect food products. As a result, vendors and retailers prefer packaging solutions that provide extended shelf life over conventional packaging solutions.
- Plastic ready meal trays are the most popular choice among end users when it comes to food packaging. Excellent barrier properties of plastic ready meal trays make it possible for vendors to increase the transit distance of their packaged products. Therefore, plastic ready meal trays have emerged as one of the most prominent food packaging techniques.
- Nowadays, pasteurization is the most common process used to treat food and it extends the shelf life of a product considerably. However, not all packaging can withstand this shelf life extension technique and high fluctuations in temperature. The solution for this challenge is the use of coated ready meal trays with a specially developed layer for heat-stability. Coated plastic ready meal trays are becoming a key trend in the plastic ready meal trays market, owing to the extended shelf life of its food products.
Plastic Ready Meal Trays Market: Key Findings
- As per material, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) ready meal trays are projected to lead the overall plastic ready meal trays market with more than 60% of the market share in 2020. This segment is expected to witness the incremental opportunity of US$ 162.7 Mn during the forecast period.
- Based on molding technology, substantial portion of plastic ready meal trays manufacturers prefer thermoformed molding to design and produce plastic ready meal trays owing to its design flexibility and lower tooling cost. The segment is projected to register peak y-o-y of 4.8% during 2023-2026 and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.7% during the forecast period.
- As per TMR analysis, multi cavity plastic ready meal trays are highly preferred for food packaging among the end users. By the end of 2028, the multi cavity plastic ready meal trays segment is anticipated to account for more than 70% of the market share.
- Despite being a matured market, the European plastic ready meal trays market is expected to generate an incremental opportunity of more than US$ 70 Mn by the end of 2028. The region accounts for a higher usage of plastic ready meal trays, and is expected to further increase over time. However, rising penetration of online food delivery market and packaging needs in highly potential Asia Pacific and MEA regions are likely to benefit plastic ready meal trays manufacturers.
Plastic Ready Meal Trays Market: Competition Landscape
- TMR analysed that the global plastic ready meal trays market is highly competitive, owing to start-ups and entry of local players. This completion among key players is carefully studied based on developments, strategies, and segmental revenue of the company over the past five years.
- The recent study of plastic ready meal trays market includes profiles of players such as
- Sonoco Products Company
- Faerch A/S
- DS Smith Plc
- Amcor plc
- Quinn Packaging
- Huhtamäki Oyj
- Omniform Group
- MCP Performance Plastic Ltd,
- Silver plastics GmbH & Co. KG
- Versatile Packaging
- TMR differentiated these players as Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 as per their segmental earnings. Among these players, Amcor plc and DS Smith Plc are identified as Tier 1 players in the plastic ready meal trays market. In 2019, these companies accounted for a collective market share of ~10%-15%. The Tier 2 players are Huhtamäki Oyj, Sonoco Products Company and Faerch A/S. Tier 3 players are Silver plastics GmbH & Co. KG, Quinn Packaging, Omniform Group, MCP Performance Plastic Ltd, and others.
Rapid Spread of COVID – 19 Pandemic to Slowdown Plastic Ready Meal Trays Market Growth
- COVID-19 has disrupted the supply chain of manufacturing industries worldwide, impacting the packaging industry as well. Discontinuation of production in multiple regions such as North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, which accounts for a significant usage of plastic ready meal trays, have affected the market severely. Along with this, due to Covid-19, people are becoming more conscious about their eating habits. Consumers across the globe are preferring nutritious home cooked food rather than consuming and ordering outside food items. This factor has created severe impact on the online food delivery, which will further slowdown the demand for plastic ready meal trays for certain period of time.
- Besides this, disturbance in distribution network, restrictions on trading activities, absence of employees and workers in manufacturing plants, and continuously changing financial conditions & tariffs in many countries due to COVID - 19 pandemic affects the demand and supply of plastic ready meal trays considerably. As per the TMR analysis, the demand for plastic ready meal trays will be sluggish until next two quarters of 2020. However, with better planning and decisions of the regulatory authorities and key players, the plastic ready meal trays market is expected to gain significant momentum among end users in the beginning of 2021.