U.S. demand for beverage containers is expected to increase by 1.7% annually until 2017, to 265 billion units valued at $29.1 billion.

Gains are expected to be driven by ongoing consumer preference for single-serving containers in many markets, increasing interest in alternatives to carbonated soft drinks, and new product introductions accompanied by aggressive marketing campaigns.

In addition, demographic trends, such as healthy gains in the older population, will bolster demand for certain beverages (e.g., wine) and related containers. These and other trends are presented in Beverage Containers, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

According to Freedonia, plastic containers will remain both the largest and fastest growing segment, although increasing maturity and environmental concerns related to the volume of PET bottles in landfills will hold back growth.

Metal beverage containers, the second largest beverage container type in unit terms, are set to register slow growth as a result of declining soft drink production and meager increases in beer production. However, gains will be helped by robust expansion of the energy and specialty drink market.

Freedonia also forecast that the Glass beverage container will post modest gains, supported by the entrenched position of bottles in wine packaging and solid growth in RTD tea. Demographic trends, particularly above average growth in key consumers of wine, will also bolster glass container demand.