According to a recent report from market research firm The Freedonia Group (Cleveland, OH), demand for protective packaging in the U.S. is expected to reach $6.8 billion in 2019. The main contribution to this growth is a rise in online shopping, where packaging products, such as air pillows and protective mailers, play a huge part in protecting goods from shock, vibration, abrasion, and other damaging effects of shipping and handling.

Expansion in manufacturing markets and increased construction dollars will also contribute to the need for protective packaging, says the “Protective Packaging” study. Additionally, offshoring of durable goods manufacturing continues to present a challenge to local packaging providers.

Environmental concerns will alter the landscape for protective packaging, mainly for goods delivered directly to consumers.  For example, foam loose fill is being replaced by air pillows and paper fill products amid worries that foam is destructive to the environment.

“The burgeoning Internet-based grocery and meal-kit delivery market,” said analyst Katie Wieser, “will support gains for products made from environmentally sustainable insulating products, including jute and reusable vacuum insulated panels, as firms look to make their business as environmentally friendly as possible.”

The reduction in packaging weight and bulk has led to packaging that is customized to the specific product.

Flexible packaging products, including protective mailers, bubble packaging, air pillows, paper fill products, and dunnage bags, will continue to be the top choice due to their low cost and ability to package a wide array of goods. No surprise here, however. Bubble wrap even has its very own Appreciation Day on Jan. 25, 2006, writes my colleague Clare Goldsberry in a recent article.

Foam protective packaging, such as insulated shipping containers, molded foams, foam-in-place polyurethane, rolled foam, and loose fill, will take home the second largest share of total demand.

Rigid protective packaging products account for the smallest portion of total demand. However, these products are expected to increase as molded pulp and paperboard protectors both benefit from a less variable pricing structure and trends toward sustainability.