Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

January 30, 2014

3 Min Read
Cans fuel the center-store revival

When the Great Recession hit in 2008/2009, consumers made shopping for values an epic, albeit mostly necessary, past-time. Many of their shopping behaviors have now become habits even though the economy has improved—and center-store sales have made a comeback, out-performing industry average growth during the past two years. According to a 2012 report from IRI, center store has consistently accounted for about two-thirds of consumer packaged goods dollar sales and 70 percent of CPG unit sales during the past few years, which represents an opportunity worth more than $440 billion. 


Megan Daum

Megan Daum, vp of sustainability for the Can Manufacturers Institute, notes recent initiatives that help explain why cans are so popular in the beverage and food markets.

Q: What is driving the recent advancements in the canned craft beer segment?
Daum: There seems to be a growing recognition among brewers and craft beer consumers that cans protect products better than other packages. Brewers invest their time and resources to create delicate, precise, perfect products, and use cans to avoid damaging or changing their taste or integrity. Only cans protect beverages from their two greatest threats: air and light. 

New can sizes, shapes, resealable lids, photograph-quality art and 360-degree billboard space allow brand owners to customize the beverage experience, differentiate themselves and share their carefully crafted brand identities with consumers. 

Brewers, and other brands, also use the aluminum beverage can to bolster their sustainability profiles. Beverage cans are 100 percent recyclable and endlessly recyclable, which means that every part of a can can be recycled again and again, forever. The optimized recycling system for aluminum beverage cans means that a can in a recycling bin is back for sale on a store shelf in as little as sixty days. In fact, 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today. 

Beverage cans are unbreakable, lightweight and easy to transport which means they can go wherever consumers do.

Q: How are food waste and food safety issues changing the perception of cans for packagers and for consumers?
Daum: According to the EPA, food waste is the single largest component of the landfill stream. A staggering 34 million tons of food is wasted each year in the United States, which is 40 to 50 percent of all harvestable food. Food waste costs Americans $1 billion every year. 

The unique vault system offered by cans locks in nutrition and freshness at the peak of ripeness. Fresh food degrades from the time it's picked, packed, transported, displayed, purchased and finally eaten. Cans protect the delicious products inside for much longer than other package types, keeping fruits and vegetables farm-fresh and nutritious until consumers are ready to enjoy them. This, of course, minimizes the costs and wastefulness associated rotten and spoiled food, and greatly reduces the food waste going to landfill. 

Additionally, the package itself helps to avoid waste. The endless recyclability of the steel used to make food cans keeps that metal in a constant, infinite loop and out of landfills, reducing the costly economic and environmental burdens associated with packaging waste, and energy inputs by up to 75 percent. The 70.1 percent recycling rate of steel food cans is the highest among all food packaging. In fact, steel is the most recycled material in the world. 

Cans provide a superior solution for food safety concerns because the food packed in cans is protected by the most robust package available. Cans are tamper resistant and tamper evident, which keeps the goodness in and locks it in for a long time and keeps the bad stuff like light, bacteria and air, that degrade product quality, out. According to the Center for Disease Control, 48 million Americans fall ill and 3,000 die from food borne diseases every year. Canning ensures: product standardization; quality control and safe, consistent, reliable products. 



About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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