The latest analysis of the U.S. beverage container market by research group Freedonia reveals that demand is expected to increase by 1.7 percent through 2017, with plastic containers remaining the fastest growing and the largest category.

By 2017, the market for beverage containers in the United States is predicted to reach a volume of 265 billion units at a total value of $29.1 billion, the Freedonia report said.

There are several factors that will drive market growth over the next five years. Among these is consumer demand for single-serving containers across many market segments on the one hand and on the other, the decline of mega bottles. Also, there is growing interest in alternatives to traditional carbonated soft drinks. Consumers are showing increased receptiveness and demand for new products, introduced in marketing campaigns across various channels.

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In terms of materials, plastics will still dominate the market, with the biggest gains expected for PET containers, Freedonia predicted. Growth in the segment is anticipated to be fueled by demand for ready-to-use tea, sports drinks and other types of non-carbonated drinks. Bottled water is also expected to gain ground, growing by 2.9 percent on an annual basis through 2017, when it is set to reach 124 billion units.

Meanwhile, paperboard cartons are expected to lose some ground to plastic containers in the milk and fruit beverage segments, leading to falling demand, Freedonia concluded.