The latest survey of over 600 UK brewers reports that cans now represent 72% of all packaged craft beer sales over the last 12 months – up from a lowly 16% in 2016. And, stats aside, it is clear that the market for cans is increasing significantly, with their benefits continuing to find favour in new and emerging markets. Flavour is no longer an issue. A 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 about quality.
Canned drinks can also be exciting to look at, offering the designer almost unlimited possibilities and cans are particularly becoming popular among many craft breweries, who look to adopt an ‘urban-style’ image for a younger appeal. The 360-degree billboard for branding design is powerful in contrast with front and back labels on a traditional bottle. In addition, high definition printing enables brands to depict intricate designs and strong, bold colours. This boosts consumer interaction while communicating a unique identity.
For beverage manufacturers, convenience is a leading factor in can popularity. Cans are lightweight, easily stacked, and take up less space than other beer packaging. This provides storage and shipping efficiencies and limits overall transportation carbon emissions through logistics and supply chains.
MILLENNIALS & MULTIPACKS
With the greater influence of millennials in the marketplace, guiding significant changes in consumer opinion, brands are increasingly putting a focus on sustainability. For the consumer, a lightweight can is convenient packaging – easily recycled and easily carried. Cans work well for those who enjoy outdoor living, as they minimise the risk of breakage often associated with bottles. And, they also offer a complete barrier against light and oxygen, which can affect a drink’s flavour and freshness.
However, one major challenge for manufacturers is that consumers rarely buy cans individually. They require a suitable multi-packing solution to make them easier to carry. The growth in cans is leading drinks manufacturers to look at the opportunities for smarter multi-packaging solutions.
For the beverage producer, this demand for multi-packing convenience must be balanced by the need to keep the branding completely visible. We already explained that the all-important artwork is often a key part to cans’ growing success. You don’t want to compromise the branding by obscuring it. Meanwhile, because cans have a strong environmental profile, it is essential that any secondary packaging is sustainable and limits their environmental impact. Recent reports estimate that recycling rates in Europe for aluminium drink cans rose to its highest level of 75% in 2018, a steep increase from the 2010 figure of just 54%.
RIDING THE WAVEGRIP
Rim applied carriers therefore offer the ideal solution. By helping to reduce secondary packaging, they provide a number of key benefits: environmental, reducing the volume and weight of material; economic, reducing the cost of multi-packing; and marketing, enabling the can to more effectively promote each brand. However traditional rim applied solutions can involve complex machinery to be applied to the cans. In particular this has prevented smaller producers from adopting the technology.
It was this need for a simpler, more efficient and more accessible multi-packaging solution that led to the development of WaveGrip. The non-stretch 100% recyclable WaveGrip PE film is applied by being ‘rolled over’ the top of the cans and is at least 10% lighter than alternative multi-packing material while providing a carrier which is also stronger.
The advent of WaveGrip’s colour carriers also now offers additional brand impact alongside sustainability. For a consumer in a hurry, colour can be the guide that triggers the seamless progression from eye, to hand, to shopping cart. 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.
ON THE UP
All this has meant there are now multiple can filling lines across the UK, USA and beyond. And with the number continuing to grow, there is also a huge volume of cans to collate and pack to enable distribution throughout the supply chain and to consumers. The right multi-packing solution is therefore key 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.