Product added.

What's Behind the Demand for Microwavable Food Packaging?


Microwaveable food has been a regular feature in the frozen food aisle for decades, a popular choice for people who want quick and easy hot meal options. In recent years, these options have expanded into the deli, dairy and shelf-stable food aisles, thanks to new packaging technology. The expanded selection of microwaveable foods outside of the frozen food aisle has fueled growth in this segment of the market. A recent study, which noted this market shift, estimates the annual growth rate of the microwaveable food market is roughly 6%. 


In this post, we’ll focus on refrigerated offerings, from microwavable entrees to easy-to-heat sides. Food producers seeking to seize upon the growth opportunity have big decisions to make about their microwaveable food packaging. What kind of plastic food packaging is microwave safe? Can our current vendor supply our packaging needs for new microwaveable options? How do I promote that it’s microwave safe to consumers? 

This post will dig into the data behind this growing market and how food producers can leverage this trend with suitable packaging options.


About the Microwaveable Food Market

According to Research and Markets, the global market for microwaveable food products is an estimated $120 billion. It’s projected to grow this decade, reaching an estimated $230 billion globally by 2031.

The market comprises three packaging segments: shelf stable, frozen and refrigerated, and ready-to-reheat microwavable foods. All three have grown recently, with the frozen segment expected to lead the field. However, new players, new packaging options, and an increase in the grab-and-go section of the supermarket are propelling significant growth in the refrigerated heat-and-eat segment, too. 

For example, a Bob Evans Farms survey found that roughly three-quarters of respondents said they purchase refrigerated heat-and-eat breakfast items at least once a month; 41% reported they are more interested in refrigerated heat-and-eat breakfast items than before the 2020 global pandemic. Other surveys have found similar responses regarding lunch and dinner options, showing again consumers want convenient, fast meal options when cooking at home.


Elements of Microwave Safe Food Packaging

When selecting the type of plastic packaging for your microwaveable food application, you must consider materials, shape, size, lidding options, and sealing process. Here are a few elements that go into every microwaveable container design process. 

  • Materials – You will need to select a type of plastic that is deemed microwave safe and can hold up to high temperatures. Plastic # 2, also known as high-density polyethylene (HDPE), is microwave safe, as is Plastic #5, known as polypropylene. However, PET and polystyrene are not. 
  • Sustainability – Will your packages be made with recyclable materials? Plastic #2 is recyclable and so is plastic #5, however it is expensive and difficult to recycle, which means it will likely end up in a landfill.
  • Lidding – Microwaveable packing can be made with either a simple film seal or a firm polypropylene lid for resealing. This latter option allows consumers to put the food back in the fridge if there are any leftovers.
  • Tamper evident – Well-sealed, tamper-evident packaging will ensure safety and lock in freshness for longer shelf life.
  • Size – Portion control is an important consideration with rising food costs. Choosing a vendor with a wide range of sizing options allows you to produce food products to your specifications.

What to Look for in a Microwaveable Packaging Vendor

With so many choices, it helps to work with a manufacturing vendor who can guide you through the process. Here are some advantages a skilled packaging vendor can offer.

  • Ease of sealing – A good microwavable food packaging design maximizes efficiency. Each microwavable container should be easy to seal when applying the lidding film, even in the most difficult applications. 
  • Long shelf life – Ask your vendor if they offer a high-oxygen barrier material option to help extend the shelf life of foods. 
  • Ample options – The vendor should have a range of shapes and sizes that make it easy to package and maintain portion control.

Microwave Safe Packaging: What Consumers Want to Know

Not all plastics are the same when it comes to microwave packaging, which can cause confusion among consumers. Although the FDA has deemed chemical components in plastics, like bisphenol A (BPA) and certain phthalates, safe for public consumption, people may be concerned about eating food from plastic packaging that may include these components. 

Commercial food producers and retailers can help alleviate concerns by focusing on the collective research on the subject. Food packaging materials must meet standards set by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) to be labeled “microwave safe.” Include microwave-safe messaging on packages and information about FDA standards within the FAQ section of your website.  


Building a Partnership

If your company is considering expanding into the growing microwavable food market, you need a vendor with whom you can build a long-term relationship. Lacerta has 30 years of experience providing high-quality packaging options with industry-leading speed to market. 

Have questions about our capabilities? Talk to one of our packaging design experts.


Let's Discuss Your  Sustainable Packaging Needs

Contact Us

Can't find what you're looking for? Contact our packaging experts.