(Aug. 25, 10:05 a.m.) Fueled by growth in fresh-cut, including an increase in the number of microwave-ready products, produce packaging will grow to about a $4.7 billion industry by 2012, according to a recent study by The Freedonia Group.

The Cleveland-based research firm released its produce packaging study in mid-August.

The study predicts “increased produce production, favorable demographic trends, growth in con-sumer spending, trends toward healthier eating and rising demand for fresh-cut produce,” as factors that will fuel the industry, according to a news release. It also suggests that a retailer preference for display-ready containers will be a prevalent trend.

The segment that will see the fastest gains, according to the study, is plastic containers. That rise will be due to an increase in the number of uses for clamshells, bowls and other plastic containers, as well as the rising popularity of fresh-cut produce.

The prevalence of fresh-cut produce will also fuel the plastic bag segment and the tray segment, according to the study. Specifically, fresh-cut vegetables packaged in microwaveable trays are expected to make their own niche.

The study also predicts that corrugated box demand will advance through a trend toward modular boxes, white-top linerboard boxes and moisture-resistant recyclable boxes, which are more expensive than conventional cardboard.

Corinne Gangloff, the company’s media relations director, said the Freedonia Group had success with the produce packaging study it released two years ago, and if this one is successful, will continue to publish them every two years.

The study’s table of contents includes sections covering market environment, packaging types, applications, end users, industry structure and company profiles. The 277-page document also includes 60 tables and charts, historical data as far back as 1997 and forecasts for 2012 and 2017.

The company’s Web site, www.freedoniagroup.com, features a 4-page brochure, which high-lights the study’s topics and includes a comprehensive table of contents. The study is available through The Freedonia Group via its Web site for $4,600.

Beginning Oct. 15, purchasers will be able to buy single pages or single chapters online. Until then, only the entire document is available.