Do you cook at home? It can be difficult to find the time to make dinner each night, especially for busy families. About two-thirds of households feature two working parents. This means that the role of cook is being assigned to an already busy (and likely tired) person. It would of course be fair if the cooking duties were divided exactly, but as that is a tricky subject it is simpler to focus on a less obvious area: food packaging containers.
As America switched from an agricultural focused society to a more urban one, there was one specific industry that popped up and grew and grew. The stock clamshell packaging ubiquitous to salad bars is very different from the tin cans of the early 20th century, but the need behind it remains the same. People are busy. They need food items that can be kept fresh in a pantry or refrigerator for longer than a day or two.
An article in the Washington Post a while back stated this alarming fact: Millennials are not eating cereal for breakfast. When questioned as to why, about 40% of participants said it was not worth dirtying a bowl each morning. This statement seems the height of laziness, until one remembers that most adults admit to skipping breakfast anyway, due to lack of appetite or lack of time.
The stock clamshell packaging and styrofoam boxes favored by take-out restaurants are both part of thermoform packaging, which involves heating a sheet of plastic until it can molded to the preferred shape. Lidding film, that thin plastic sheet –protects our yogurt, soups, and other foods we would rather not spill on our lunch break– is an important component of food packaging. The entire industry is expected to grow to roughly $116.1 billion by 2025, according to the Global Fresh Food Packaging Market. And this growth will be driven by the millennial.
The study which examined the reasons for the drop in cereal sales found an obvious cause. Everyone is busy. This is no longer an excuse but a trend. People are attempting to streamline their daily tasks so as to have one (or two or three) less things to worry about. Morning routines are always the first to fall under the axe, as sleepy people are more likely to be forgetful. Grabbing a quick breakfast may even be a requirement for the perpetually late.
What the fall in cereal sales really says is not that young workers are lazy so much as they are more comfortable doing things on-the-go. This may be a holdover from the influx of on-the-go snack items that were so popular throughout the nineties and today. If a food item cannot be easily consumed in the car or on the train, its inconvenience outweighs other factors.
The stock clamshell packaging, vacuum pouches, and other packaging for convenience foods then are succeeding because of how easy they are to pack and eat from where ever one happens to be. This, then, is the future of food packaging. Not flashy slogans about health benefits or endorsements, but the simple ease of use.