GVR Report cover Molded Pulp Packaging Market Size, Share & Trends Report

Molded Pulp Packaging Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Source (Wood, Non-Wood), By Molded Type (Thermoformed, Transfer), By Product (Clamshells, Trays), By Application, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 - 2028

  • Report ID:  GVR-3-68038-856-5
  • Number of Pages: 144
  • Format: Electronic (PDF)

Report Overview

The global molded pulp packaging market size was valued at USD 3,811.1 million in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1% from 2021 to 2028. Growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions from environment-conscious consumers and stringent regulations related to plastic usage is expected to drive the market over the forecast period. Molded pulp packaging was limited to egg trays for many years; however, the demand has increased in other applications as well due to its sustainable properties. It is completely renewable and biodegradable as it is made from wood fiber and cellulose, thus, meeting the criterion set forth by government agencies and organizations.

U.S. molded pulp packaging market size, by application, 2018 - 2028 (USD Million)

The U.S. consumer electronics retail sales are expected to reach USD 461 billion in 2021 as per data published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Such huge demand for consumer electronics, when compared with other industries, will create the need for safe packaging solutions. In addition, end caps are widely utilized in the packaging of non-electronic products, such as personal care, cosmetics, and medicines, which is expected to further drive the market in the U.S. over the forecast period.

The molded pulp packaging is made from various raw materials that influence the texture, color, and performance of packaging. Most of the molded pulp products are manufactured with the use of water mixed with cellulose fibers, which form an aggregate called the pulp. The common sources of cellulose fibers are recycled paper, recycled cardboard, and natural fibers. Depending on the desired products including precision and plain molded products, different raw materials are utilized; for example, recovered papers are mostly used for plain molding products. The manufacturing process of molded pulp packaging usually differs with respect to the drying methods including heated oven, impulse drying, hot air convection drying, and microwave drying.

Although the pulp is a sustainable material for manufacturing packaging solutions, it can be substituted by bioplastics as these offer superior properties, such as aesthetic appeal and moisture barrier. Bioplastics are derived from renewable sources, such as cellulose, starch, vegetable fats, and vegetable oils, which is expected to create challenges for the molded pulp packaging products.

Source Insights

The wood pulp segment accounted for the highest revenue share of over 86% in the year 2020 owing to the easy availability and low cost of these sources. The declining pulp prices in most of the regions have also been boosting the segment growth over the past few years. For instance, in China, pulp prices declined from USD 770 per ton in 2018 to USD 580 per ton in 2021.

However, the non-wood source segment is expected to witness the fastest CAGR from 2021 to 2028. Non-wood pulp, which is manufactured with the help of non-woody cellulosic plant materials, such as grasses, cereal straw, sugar cane bagasse and, reeds, has also been gaining popularity. Cereal straw was the most used raw material in the production of non-wood pulp.

Several non-conventional raw materials are being explored at the experimentation stage, which includes natural latex and coconut husk. Companies are utilizing bamboo as a virgin material for pulp manufacturing as bamboo plants can grow easily in almost all regions.

In addition, higher paper recycling rates in the developed economies of North America and Europe have been favoring the segment with raw material availability. The paper recyclability rate in the U.S. has increased from 63% in 2009 to more than 70% in 2020. Whereas, around 74% of the paper in the European region was recycled by the end of the year 2020, which is also ensuring the continuous supply of raw materials.

Product Insights

The trays segment accounted for the highest revenue share of over 41% in 2020. Trays are mainly used in the food and foodservice industries due to the high convenience, shock absorption, and stability offered by these products. In the food industry, molded pulp trays are largely used for primary egg packaging in retail distribution channels.

Molded pulp trays are projected to have high demand due to several shortcomings of plastic trays. Foam and plastic trays are not ideal in foodservice packaging as these tend to distort hot food and beverages and also pose an additional possibility of contamination of the products at elevated temperatures. Moreover, molded pulp trays are double oven-able; the trays can be used in both microwave as well as conventional ovens making it a popular choice.

End caps are a key product in the protective packaging market as they are cost-effective and biodegradable. Although several substitutes, such as foam end caps, are available in the market, raising concerns regarding the non-degradable properties of foam materials is boosting the demand for end caps. The demand for molded pulp clamshells is also on the rise. Although plastic offers high moisture barrier properties in contrast to molded pulp packaging, the declining use of single-use plastics due to stringent regulations is likely to support the segment growth.

Application Insights

Food packaging emerged as a dominating application segment in 2020 accounting for a revenue share of more than 44%. Molded pulp products used for the packaging of fruits and vegetables help regulate fruit respiration and maintain ethylene density. Ethylene is the hormone responsible for the ripening of the fruit.

Molded packaging products, such as bowls, plates, clamshells, and cups, are widely used in the foodservice industry for the packaging of on-the-go snacks, Ready-To-Eat (RTE) meals, and beverages. The growing demand for on-the-go foods and single-serve meals owing to busy lifestyles in urban areas is expected to boost the foodservice segment growth over the forecast period.

The electronics application segment is expected to witness the fastest CAGR of over 7% from 2021 to 2028 owing to high product demand for the packaging of electronic devices, such as computers, modems, printers, hard drives, cellphones, and others. The electronic industry is characterized by frequent product launches owing to technological advancements, which is anticipated to drive the demand for molded pulp packaging products. Molded pulp packaging products, such as trays and end caps, are widely used for packaging a range of industrial products including faucets, plumbing fixtures, door hinges, and mechanical components as they are sustainable and offer enhanced protection and reduction in shipping costs & weight.

Molded Type Insights

In terms of revenue, the transfer molded type segment accounted for the highest revenue share of over 57% in 2020. Transfer molded pulp packaging is witnessing high demand in food packaging applications as a result of its advantages, such as hygroscopic properties, and air permeability, which help extend the shelf life of food and beverage products. In addition, molded pulp packaging provides protection from the shocks, which limits breakage or damage to the products, such as eggs and wine bottles.

The thick wall segment is expected to register a significant CAGR of more than 5 % over the forecast period. This packaging holds a smooth surface on one side and an unfinished surface on the other side and is commonly used as end caps or trays for packaging industrial products. Typically, recycled kraft paper pulp is utilized to produce thick wall pulp packaging owing to its low cost.

Global molded pulp packaging market share, by molded type, 2020 (%)

The thermoformed or thin-wall molded type segment is estimated to record the fastest CAGR from 2021 to 2028. The manufacturing process of these products involves heated molds that press the pulp for a smoother finish and better dimensions. These packaging products are commonly used in the foodservice industry for trays, plates, cups, and bowls.

The rigidity and smooth finish along with recyclability and sustainability offered by this type of packaging make it a better option than plastic. The processed molded pulp is largely used for clamshell products. Clamshells are widely used in various industries, especially in the food and foodservice industries, as they are the best-suited alternative to plastic clamshells and blister packs.

Regional Insights

Asia Pacific was the dominant regional market in 2020 and accounted for a revenue share of 41% in 2020. China, being the largest food & beverage industry in APAC, accounted for the maximum share in the regional market. The rising environmental and pollution concerns in the country have forced government agencies and organizations to strictly adhere to sustainability strategies, which resulted in a ban on the usage of single-use plastic and increased adoption of biodegradable packaging solutions.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its economic implications have positively affected the market on many levels in the entire value chain. One of the primary end-users of molded pulp products is the egg retailing sector, which witnessed a boom in 2020 as there was a rise in egg consumption due to factors, such as increased at-home baking and demand for healthy proteins.

North America was the second-largest regional market in 2020 as it is home to several food service companies including restaurants, fast-food outlets, and catering services. A higher number of out-of-home dining due to hectic lifestyles and higher per capita disposable income are expected to bolster the North America market growth in the future.

Europe had close to one million restaurants and mobile food service providers in 2020, and the number is expected to increase during the forecast period. With an increasing number of restaurants and other food outlets, the demand for sustainable packaging solutions is also expected to grow. The member countries of the EU maintain stringent regulatory regimes to keep a check on environmental impacts caused by the disposal of wastes, mainly plastics, creating a nourishing environment for the molded pulp packaging market.

Key Companies & Market Share Insights

The market is highly competitive with the presence of both global and regional companies. Companies offer a wide range of products that are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Moreover, they offer custom packaging products to suit customer-specific requirements. The market has also witnessed several new product launches over the last few years. For instance, in February 2019, Genpak LLC extended its Harvest Fiber product line by introducing 4 new products, which included two trays, namely HF3TT & HF2X2T, and two clamshells, namely HF2X2 & HF4CC. Some of the prominent companies in the global molded pulp packaging market include:

  • Brodrene Hartmann A/S

  • Huhtamako Oyj

  • UFP Technologies, Inc.

  • Thermoform Engineered Quality LLC

  • Genpak, LLC

  • Eco-Products, Inc.

  • Fabri-Kal

  • Sabert Corp.

Molded Pulp Packaging Market Report Scope

Report Attribute


Market size value in 2021

USD 4,024.6 million

Revenue forecast in 2028

USD 6,120.9 million

Growth rate

CAGR of 6.1% from 2021 to 2028

Base year for estimation


Historical data

2017 - 2019

Forecast period

2021 - 2028

Quantitative units

Revenue in USD million/billion and CAGR from 2021 to 2028

Report coverage

Revenue forecast, company ranking, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends

Segments covered

Source, molded type, product, application, region

Regional Scope

North America; Europe; Asia Pacific; Central & South America; Middle East & Africa

Country Scope

U.S.; Canada; Mexico; Germany; U.K.; France; Italy; China; India; Japan; Brazil; Saudi Arabia

Key companies profiled

Brodrene Hartmann A/S; Huhtamako Oyj; UFP Technologies, Inc; Thermoform Engineered Quality LLC; Genpak, LLC; Eco-Products, Inc; Fabri-Kal; Sabert Corp.

Customization scope

Free report customization (equivalent up to 8 analysts working days) with purchase. Addition or alteration to country, regional & segment scope

Pricing and purchase options

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Segments Covered in the Report

This report forecasts revenue growth at the global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the latest industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2017 to 2028. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global molded pulp packaging market report on the basis of source, molded type, product, application, and region:

  • Source Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)

    • Wood Pulp

    • Non-wood Pulp

  • Molded Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)

    • Thick Wall

    • Transfer

    • Thermoformed

    • Processed

  • Product Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)

    • Trays

    • End Caps

    • Bowls & Cups

    • Clamshells

    • Plates

    • Others

  • Application Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)

    • Food Packaging

    • Food Service

    • Electronics

    • Healthcare

    • Industrial

    • Others

  • Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)

    • North America

      • U.S.

      • Canada

      • Mexico

    • Europe

      • Germany

      • France

      • U.K.

      • Italy

    • Asia Pacific

      • China

      • India

      • Japan

    • Central & South America

      • Brazil

    • Middle East & Africa

      • Saudi Arabia

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