Demand for pouches used in meat packaging is forecast to climb 5.3 percent per year to $220 million in 2021, with unit gains expected to advance 3 percent per year to 1.6 billion units. Above average gains will be driven by the growing preference for products that make meal preparation more convenient, according to the new report “Meat Packaging Market in the US” from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based research firm and a division of

In many categories, the pouch encourages product innovation. This is particularly true with shelf-stable multi-serving snack items such as jerky and sausage bites, as well as frozen snack products such as bagels dogs and stuffed pocket foods. Consumers appreciate the resealable zipper design of the pouch while retailers welcome the stand-up merchandising attribute.

The report identifies such stand-up pouches as being well-positioned for growth in the frozen meat and jerky sectors, while retort pouches will continue to see more use in the packaging of processed meat. However, many conversions have already occurred, mitigating gains somewhat going forward.

“Pouches have a number of advantages and disadvantages that impact their position in meat packaging,” says Katie Wieser, analyst at The Freedonia Group. “For processed meats, the ability to be easily displayed is a key benefit, resulting in greater use of stand-up and peggable formats and high-quality printing. Additionally, the ability to integrate value-added features has allowed pouches to gain share in all major markets for meat packaging.”

However, cost and slower production speeds will limit gains for many processed meat applications. Furthermore, the packaging of ready-to-eat meat products in pouches is not feasible in many cases due to the fact that these often must remain upright in their packages.