The global market for beverage cans is increasing significantly and according to a report by Grand View Research, is expected to reach $60.92 billion by 2024. Although cans’ suitability for a wide range of drinks is well-established, their benefits continue to find favour in new and emerging markets. One recent example is the craft beer sector. A recent blind tasting of a Scottish craft beer suggested that the tasters – all craft beer lovers – could not tell the difference between beer stored in a bottle or from a can – challenging the old perceptions in relation to quality. Such findings are a strong indication that canned beer could soon supersede that of bottles. Indeed in 2017 it was reported that canned craft beer sales in the UK rose by 327% in just the first eight months of the year, according to research from Nielsen.
Many breweries are therefore now leading the way with cans, particularly with the 330ml size. Whilst traditionally bottling lines have been cheaper and easier to buy second-hand, canning systems are now much more efficient and, once installed, are easier to maintain.
Canned drinks also allow for sharp-looking and exciting packaging, providing the designer with almost unlimited possibilities. Cans are also becoming increasingly popular as many breweries look to adopt an ‘urban-style’ image and they offer a younger appeal and a 360-degree area for branding design, in contrast with the traditional bottle with only front and back labels.
In addition, cans are lightweight, easily stacked and take up less space than many other packaging formats. This provides storage and shipping efficiencies and limits overall transportation carbon emissions through logistics and supply chains. For the consumer, cans are also easily recyclable and are easily carried, working well for those who enjoy outdoor living as they minimise the risk of breakages often associated with bottles.
All these benefits have contributed to cans’ popularity across beverage sectors. However, the one major challenge for manufacturers is that consumers rarely buy cans individually and therefore require a suitable multi-packing solution to make them easier to carry.
For the drinks producer, the demand for multi-packing convenience has to be balanced by the need not to compromise the branding by obscuring the all-important can artwork. At the same time, since cans have a strong environmental profile, it is essential that any solution does not impact on this too much either. Rim applied carriers such as WaveGrip therefore offer the ideal solution. By helping to reduce secondary packaging, they provide several key benefits: sustainability, reducing the volume and weight of packaging material; economic, reducing the cost of multi-packing; and marketing, enabling the can to more effectively promote each brand.
With the advent of colour rim carriers, they also offer a further benefit of additional brand impact. For a consumer in a hurry colour can be the guide that triggers the seamless progression from eye, to hand, to shopping trolley. And as part of the way in which it presents itself, outer packaging has a vital role to play in helping to deliver a fully satisfying customer experience. Extending an established colour code with the carrier provides a simple, yet stylish, additional point of branding differentiation.
According to Nielsen, packaging and labelling is one of the primary purchase influencers for craft beer consumers, with 66% of American craft beer consumers saying that they are very or extremely likely to buy craft beer based on its packaging or label. 70% of buyers said they make their purchasing decisions at the shelf, which places the emphasis even more on packaging, and its impact through design and colour, as the main impulse influencer.
Recent developments in application technology have led to a greater range of applicators, including entry-level versions, now being available – enabling even lower volume producers to use rim-applied carriers from the earliest stages. Similarly, the growth in the demand for cans has also driven the launch of affordable, short-run contractor services, mobile canning companies and multiple choices when purchasing low to high volume in-house lines.
All this has meant there are now multiple can filling lines across the UK. And with the number continuing to grow, there is also a huge volume of potential cans to collate and pack to enable distribution throughout the supply chain and to consumers.
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Such growth indicates the ongoing popularity of cans and how they continue to offer great opportunities for drinks manufacturers. The right multi-packing solution is therefore requirement and makes a significant contribution through both supporting cans’ traditional benefits in terms of branding, consumer convenience, product freshness and sustainability, while at the same time delivering the production efficiencies that are essential to success in competitive markets.