The Trends Report describes how overall economic trends will affect the folding carton market in the near and far terms. With unemployment at its lowest in years, real wages rising modestly and consumer net worth at the highest level in decades, consumer spending is expected to accelerate above 3% by 2021.
This positive business environment is a key factor in Trends’ positive growth forecast for the next five years. The total value of US carton shipments is predicted to grow from an estimated $8.6 billion in 2016 to just over $9.6 billion in 2021, while average annual values per ton will increase 1.9% per year.
The folding carton industry is not without near-term challenges. Carton shipments are forecast to drop by 0.7% in 2017, likely due to ongoing shifts in consumer spending toward fresh food and continued substitution pressure from plastics. Overseas competition will continue to challenge domestic producers during the next five years, due to the anticipated strength of the U.S. dollar relative to most global currencies.
On the flip side, a recent break in board prices is welcome news to the industry. From 2011 to 2016, paperboard costs rose at an annual average rate of 2.2%, cutting into converters’ profitability as the average value of folding cartons increased by just 1.3% over the same period.