Each year here at FPI we conduct a survey on the state of the foodservice packaging industry. We ask raw materials and machinery suppliers as well as converters to take our survey on the state of the industry here in North America. We even ask our sister association, Pack2Go Europe, to share the survey with their membership, so we can get a flavor of the industry across the pond. We also ask foodservice operators and distributors to share their opinions with us to help us achieve the best snapshot we can of the value chain. While our primary interest is foodservice packaging, we also want to know about what’s going on both up and downstream that may influence the packaging industry.
Participation in our survey is confidential and completely voluntary. We so want to hear what everyone has to say that we allow participants to pick and choose which questions they want to answer. Some folks aren’t comfortable giving an opinion on certain questions or just don’t have enough information to answer others. The opt-out has allowed us to garner as much information from as many industry members as we can.
So, what do we do with this information? We are an association. So, naturally, we turn it in to a report. The State of the Industry Report is sent out to the FPI Board of Directors and to those who participate in the survey – we assume if someone has taken the time to follow the link and answer the questions, they might want to see the results. But, as a preview, here are just a couple of things I noticed while preparing this year’s report:
· The weather this winter was a big deal. More than once the crappy, nasty, too cold, too snowy, too long winter most of us had got mentioned. It has dulled a number of perspectives on the foodservice packaging industry outlook for 2014. While all of our respondents thought that this year would be better or stay the same as last year, some noted the impact of winter on the first quarter would have lasting consequences.
· We are global. I mean, I know the foodservice packaging industry is global, but one of the responses this year really drove that home for me. The “Russian situation” was mentioned with regard to the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I totally wasn’t expecting to see that in the responses. While I am constantly bombarded with news from the television, radio and internet about international affairs, I don’t always think about how those affairs affect our industry. Our world-wide companies sell their wares the world over. And any strife or skirmish in any part of our globe can have impact on a piece of our value chain, be that big or small.
· Increasing raw material costs topped the list of concerns for our North American converters and machinery suppliers as well as our European participants. It made the top five for our North American raw material suppliers too. While we have seen the costs of raw materials here before, this is the first time it has been number one in three out of four categories. Hey, at least the recession is over, right?! Yeah, not much consolation there...
Are you a member of the foodservice packaging community and want to participate in next year’s survey? Drop me a note and I’ll get you on my list. Aside from a few…ahem...minutely nagging email messages from me gently reminding you to follow the link to the survey, it really is painless and we’d love to know what you think. Really.