The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) on Wednesday announced the release of its 2023-2024 Trends Industry Outlook & Market Data Report, the only comprehensive market outlook for folding cartons. 

Prepared exclusively for PPC by Fastmarkets RISI, a provider of pulp and paper industry intelligence, the report features overall growth forecasts for the U.S. and Canada as well as in-depth analysis of 17 end-use markets.

Key Findings:

Steady Growth Through 2027

Despite challenges such as inflation and economic uncertainty, the report forecasts positive, though slow, growth for folding cartons. The market is slated to enjoy annual growth of 0.4% over the next three years, reaching 5.4 million tons by 2027.

Economic Challenges

Carton manufacturers, especially independent converters, are facing pricing challenges as paperboard prices consistently outpace actual folding carton prices. The report provides a detailed analysis of the economic dynamics affecting the industry.

Sustainability Wins

Plastic substitution and environmentally friendly packaging trends should provide a tailwind for carton growth over the forecast. In fact, recent decisions by some of the largest fast-food companies and municipalities across the country suggest that paperboard packaging materials are poised to benefit from their environmentally friendly profile. 

Reduced Capacity in Canada 

The macroeconomic environment in Canada during the forecast period will support carton shipment growth. However, the planned closure of a cartonboard mill in 2026 will reduce Canadian folding cartonboard capacity by close to 30%. This will greatly reduce the amount of folding cartons that can be produced and shipped in Canada.

In addition to forecasts for the overall folding carton market, the report analyzes 17 key end-use segments, including beverage, confectionery, dairy, dry foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and retail carry-out. This year, four categories were classified as growing markets, nine as mature, and four as declining.

"The 2023-2024 Trends Report provides our members and the industry with crucial insights into the current market landscape and future trends,” said Ben Markens, PPC President. "As we navigate the complexities of economic recovery and changing consumer behaviors, this report equips converters with the knowledge needed to make strategic decisions and drive innovation within the paperboard packaging sector.”

PPC members can access the full 140-page report and explore detailed findings at A free summary is also available for non-members.