At the 2010 Pack Expo show late last year, a panel of experts representing several leading consumer products companies (P&G, Kraft, Pepsico, Conagra, Heinz) gathered to answer the question: what are the key factors driving packaging choices today? In summary, the panel mentioned the sustainability of the package, its impact on brand value, and its overall impact on production efficiency as being the key drivers of packaging innovation. The entire article presented in Packaging Digest’s January 2011 edition can be seen at www.packagingdigest.com/2011trends.
Independent Can has been a member of the International Packaging Association (IPA) for 15 years, a group of 15 canmakers from 14 countries. At our recent Marketing Meeting in Dubai (U.A.E.), we posed the same question to our members, but from the standpoint of the metal package. What are the key issues in our industry and with our package that we as canmakers need to direct investment towards, in order to address the challenges of our customers in an increasingly competitive global environment?
Investment in cost reduction was at the top of everyone’s list as we all look to offset inflationary trends in the cost of raw materials. Independent Can has invested heavily in sheet fed presses to blank parts more efficiently while reducing changeover times between jobs. We have investigated the downgauging of steel for several items and have consolidated many of our steel specifications in order to allow us more control over steel quality and cost, while reducing lead times. We have also automated the packaging of many of our products. But our largest investments have been in the area of printing, which we now refer to as Hi-Def Lithography, with significant impacts on quality, lead time reduction, and costs.
Sharing the story of the metal can’s sustainability, chiefly recycling properties, was a close second in our informal survey. Steel is the most heavily recycled material in the world, easily separated in recycling centers with magnets, and on average newly produced steel is composed of 56% recycled materials. Steel is infinitely recyclable, and can always be recycled into new steel products, in comparison to plastics which will eventually must be placed in a landfill. We also have a sustainability story to share as a company as we have reduced our energy consumption significantly as we invest in energy saving solutions plant wide, and raise the level of awareness within our employee base on the consumption of many plant and office materials.
Product innovation is also a primary concern among the members of the can manufacturing community. Independent Can developed 10 new domestic can concepts in 2010 and is focused on many new projects for 2011. “Innovation” can mean many things to many people, but often we need to look beyond shape and appearance in packaging. Innovation in metal packaging can represent shape, functionality, automation, design, varnish/appearance, and the many ways we continually improve our operations and look to reduce costs. In these respects Independent Can is truly innovative.
Please make sure to look to our “What’s New” section of our website www.independentcan.com for frequent updates and information regarding Independent Can and our products.