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US Cups & Lids Market Report

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  • 386 Pages
  • February 2024
  • Region: United States
  • The Freedonia Group
  • ID: 5944350

This study examines the US market for disposable cups and lids. Historical data are provided for 2012, 2017, and 2022, with forecasts through 2032. Annual data is provided for 2018-2026. Data are provided in current dollar value and units. The study also evaluates company market share and competitive analysis on key industry competitors including Dart Container, International Paper, Graphic Packaging, Pactiv Evergreen, and Berry Global.

Demand for disposable cups and lids in the US is forecast to grow 3.4% per year to $15.5 billion in 2027. In volume terms, demand will increase 1.8% annually to 479 billion units. Unit growth will be supported by healthy gains in foodservice revenues and the increasing popularity of single-serve, convenient food packaging. In addition to real demand gains, market value will be supported by the proliferation of higher value, sustainable cup materials such as molded fiber and aluminum.

Sustainability Has Growing Impacts on Material Mix & Product Development

Over the past decade, sustainability has become a leading factor in determining cup and lid choices. This has resulted in a strong push toward using higher priced materials such as aluminum and bioplastics, which supports market value increases. This also extends to products such as rigid plastic cups, with an emphasis placed on more environmentally friendly plastics or the greater incorporation of recycled content, which also boosts prices.

Concerns over sustainability are also creating a shift in the product mix. For instance, a general phaseout of foam cups, especially among major foodservice chains, is supporting demand for a variety of alternative materials such as paper. However, growing efforts to encourage reusable cup usage, especially among coffee shops and other limited-service restaurants, will offer a potential restraint on cup demand.

Continued Growth in Foodservice to Further Propel Cup Demand

Foodservice will continue to be an important market for disposable cups and lids due to their widespread use with hot and cold beverages, various food items, and condiments. Foodservice cup and lid demand will be supported by continued growth in foodservice orders and a return to normal consumer dining out habits. The increasing number of takeout and delivery orders at full-service restaurants, which almost exclusively used reusable glassware until recently, will also bolster gains. However, a shift at some limited-service restaurants toward bottled beverage options instead of those offered in cups will restrain greater gains.

Convenience Will Support Packaging Cup Demand Despite Maturity in Key Food Segments

Demand for packaging cups and lids will primarily benefit from the convenience they offer across various food packaging applications. In addition to widespread trends toward individual-sized food products, cups allow for on-the-go snacking as well as use with multi-pack products. However, a slowdown in key food segments, most notably flattening yogurt consumption after periods of exceptional growth, will restrain further demand going forward.

Historical Sales Trends

Demand for disposable cups and lids is directly related to trends in consumer food and beverage expenditures, particularly spending for food and beverages consumed away from home, and overall food and beverage consumption patterns.

Other important determinants of demand levels and growth include:

  • Demographic factors such as the overall size and growth rate of the resident population, the age distribution of the population, the average household size, and the number of family members in the workforce
  • Macroeconomic variables, such as levels of personal consumption expenditures and disposable income, and overall economic growth and inflation
  • Shifts in consumer food and beverage tastes and preferences, including dietary trends
  • Changes in food distribution channels and the retail environment

Cup and lid demand is also influenced by less predictable factors, such as raw material prices and availability, technological developments, government regulations, and foreign trade.

The outlook for cups and lids is also linked to overall packaging demand and various packaging industry trends, including:

  • Competition from alternative packaging formats, such as other plastic or paper containers, and flexible packaging (e.g., pouches)
  • Consumer preferences and purchasing trends (e.g., single serving formats, portability, reusability)
  • The importance of environmental friendliness and sustainability (e.g., recyclability and compostability)

Demand for cups and lids in the foodservice market is largely influenced by foodservice industry variables. These factors include:

  • The characteristics of various beverage products
  • Shifts in consumer beverage preferences
  • Portion size trends
  • Menu changes by restaurants
  • design and convenience factors

Value demand growth for cups and lids experienced a notable acceleration in 2021 and 2022 compared to previous years due to the significant inflation following supply chain issues caused by the 2020 pandemic. However, unit growth in those years was similar to historical averages as consumers remained modest in their food and drink purchases in the midst of increasing prices.

Markets Overview

Demand for cups and lids is forecast to grow 3.4% per year to $15.5 billion in 2027, with real growth of 1.8% annually to 479 billion units. Advances will be fueled by continued growth in foodservice revenues and solid prospects for food and beverage packaging cups.

Foodservice will remain the dominant cup and lid market in value terms, accounting for 66% market value in 2027. While the large established base and maturity of some applications will hold back gains, several trends will drive cup and lid demand, especially an increased focus on specialty beverage offerings in quick service and other restaurants along with general trends toward snacking in place of traditional meals:

  • To counter declining carbonated soft drink consumption, many establishments are broadening their beverage menus by offering noncarbonated premium priced beverages such as smoothies, iced coffee, and bubble teas. This has led to increased demand for higher quality cups and lids and has lessened the impact of middling fountain drink sales.
  • Quick service restaurants and convenience stores have emphasized premium coffees, a trend that will support demand for costlier paper hot cups and specialty lids.
  • Growth in takeout and delivery services at full-service restaurants will provide a boost in cup and lid demand to a market that previously used almost exclusively reusable serviceware.

The food and beverage packaging market will benefit from the popularity and convenience of single-serving containers and healthier eating trends.

However, as newer applications become more established, the pace of packaging cup and lid demand will slow. This has already been seen in food cup markets such as coffee and tea.

Other factors that will boost foodservice cup demand in value terms include the importance of custom printing on cups and the increasing presence of higher value environmentally friendly products, such as cups made of compostable resins or incorporating significant amounts of recycled material.

In retail (home use), demand will stagnate, limited by the presence of commodity products and a significant level of seasonal demand in the retail market. However, retail sales will be somewhat supported by growing demand for more expensive environmentally friendly products.

Medical and dental uses, which constitute a small market for cups and lids, will see demand increase due to above average expansion of older age groups, which tend to have more medical and dental visits than younger groups. A rising number of medical and dental visits will translate into heightened demand for cups used for testing, holding pills, and other functions.

Applications Overview (Beverage, Food, Portion, & Packaging)

Disposable cups are used for a variety of applications, including:

  • beverage cups
  • food cups for foodservice
  • portion cups
  • packaging cups

Beverage cups for the foodservice and retail markets are the leading product types, together representing more than 60% of total cup demand in value terms in 2022. The large share held by disposable beverage cups stems from their widespread use in quick service restaurants, coffee and snack shops, convenience stores, sports stadiums, movie theaters, and other locations, as well as for home use.

Demand for disposable cups and lids is expected to climb 3.4% annually to $15.5 billion in 2027, with real growth of 1.8% annually to 479 billion units.

Foodservice cup growth will be driven by growing foodservice revenues and an increase in dining away from home. Cup usage will also be supported by the increasing presence of specialty coffee in quick service chains and convenience stores, with such coffee frequently sold in costlier paper cups to convey a premium image.

Portion cups will continue to be widely used by foodservice establishments as a convenient way of containing sauces, condiments, and small food items. However, portion cups in non-foodservice applications will remain a niche product, largely used as a receptacle for medicine distribution in hospitals and nursing homes.

Solid advances are anticipated for packaging cups as a result of strong opportunities in candy and snack applications coupled with the development of new uses stemming from consumer preference for convenient and portable single serving packaging.

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary
2. Short Term Analysis
  • Economic Forecast
  • Short-Term Cups & Lids Industry Trends
3. Overview
  • Study Scope
  • Historical Sales Trends
  • Markets Overview
  • Applications Overview (Beverage, Food, Portion, & Packaging)
  • Products Overview (Cups, Lids & Lidding)
  • Materials Trends (Plastic, Paper, Molded Fiber, Metal)
  • Pricing & Inflation
  • Foreign Trade
4. Factors Impacting Cup & Lid Demand
  • Foodservice Industry Outlook
  • Food Packaging Trends
  • Beverage Packaging Trends
  • Raw Materials Use & Availability
  • Regulations
  • Overview
  • Bans on Foam & Plastic Products
  • Sustainability Initiatives
  • Recycling & Recycled Content
  • Source Reduction Efforts
  • Development of Sustainable Materials
  • Competitive Products
5. Rigid Plastic Cups
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Outlook & Applications
  • Markets
  • Product Innovation
  • Leading Suppliers
6. Foam Cups
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Outlook & Applications
  • Markets
  • Product Innovation
  • Leading Suppliers
7. Paper Cups
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Outlook & Applications
  • Markets
  • Product Innovation
  • Leading Suppliers
8. Molded Fiber Cups
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Outlook & Applications
  • Markets
  • Product Innovation
  • Leading Suppliers
9. Metal Cups
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Outlook & Applications
  • Markets
  • Product Innovation
  • Leading Suppliers
10. Lids & Lidding
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Outlook, Products & Applications
  • Demand by Product
  • Demand by Application
  • Rigid Lids
  • Lidding (Flexible Lids)
  • Materials
  • Markets
  • Product Innovation
  • Leading Suppliers
11. Beverage Cups & Lids
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Demand Outlook
  • Beverage Cups
  • Demand by Type
  • Cold Cups
  • Hot Cups
  • Lids for Beverage Cups
  • Demand by Type
  • Standard Lids
  • Specialty Lids
  • Materials
  • Markets
  • Leading Suppliers
12. Food Cups & Lids
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Demand Outlook
  • Materials
  • Markets
  • Leading Suppliers
13. Portion Cups & Lids
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Demand Outlook
  • Materials
  • Markets
  • Leading Suppliers
14. Packaging Cups & Lids
  • Scope & Product Description
  • Demand Outlook
  • Materials
  • Markets
  • Leading Suppliers
15. Foodservice Markets
  • Market Scope
  • Markets Overview
  • Demand by Market
  • Fast Food & Fast Casual
  • Other Limited Service Restaurants (Coffee Shops, Snack Shops, Street Vendors)
  • Full-Service
  • Non-Commercial Foodservice
  • Products & Applications
  • Materials
16. Food & Beverage Packaging Markets
  • Market Scope
  • Markets Overview
  • Demand by Market
  • Dairy Products
  • Prepared Foods
  • Sauces, Condiments, & Dressings
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Coffee & Tea
  • Dry Food (Dry Soups, Side Dishes, & Breakfast Cereals)
  • Candy & Snacks
  • Baby Food
  • Other Foods
  • Beverages
  • Product Trends
  • Materials
17. Retail, Medical, & Nonfood Packaging Markets
  • Markets Overview
  • Demand by Market
  • Retail Sale/Home Use
  • Medical & Dental Markets
  • Pet Food & Treats
  • Nonfood Packaging
  • Product Trends
  • Materials
18. Industry Structure
  • Key Findings & Industry Composition
  • Market Share
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • List of Industry Participants
19. Appendix
  • Report Details
  • Definitions
  • Abbreviations
  • Methodology
  • Study-Specific Methodology
  • Data Changes from Previous Version
  • Sources
  • Associations & Agencies
  • Related Studies & Reports
  • Macroeconomic Assumptions
  • Economic Environment
  • Demographic Trends
  • Consumer Spending

Companies Mentioned

  • Berry Global
  • Dart Container
  • Graphic Packaging
  • International Paper
  • Pactiv Evergreen