July 2015 – According to the figures currently published by the European umbrella organisation for the industry – “Beverage Can Makers Europe” (BCME) – consumption of beverage cans in Europe in 2014 was up by about 4% against 2013 standing at more than 60 billion units of this popular aluminium-based packaging. If this trend was to continue there would be two and not just one reason for celebrating this year: in addition to the increase in revenue a “round” birthday needs to celebrated: 1935 saw the first beer to be sold in cans in the USA – this marked the beginning of a worldwide packaging triumph.
On the market for 80 years
Initially, beverage cans met with particular interest among drinks producers: when stacked almost twice as many containers can be transported in comparison with glass bottles – and what is more – also across long distances. And before long, consumers did not want to forego their refreshment from sheet metal packaging either – despite initially complicated closing methods. Before those handy pull-tabs were introduced as a standard in 1962 tools had to be used to open the cans.
In the beginning environmentalists often complained about the initially low recycling ratio. The can deposit introduced by politicians caused a drastic albeit short-term dip in popularity of these containers at the turn of the millennium. In the meantime, the recycling ratio has been fundamentally improved, also thanks to a weight reduction of originally 100 grams for a 0.33-l can in the 30s to currently 16 grams for half a litre. Consumers have started to take to beverage cans not only at the World Cup or on summer pick-nicks. This packaging type made from tinplate or aluminium has long become a lifestyle product, which has found its loyal followership especially for lemonades, coffee-mix drinks and energy drinks.
Cans have even become collectors’ items. Special editions issued to mark famous brands’ jubilees boost sales figures just as efficiently as creative marketing ideas do. A cooperation of the Portuguese beer brand “Sagres” with the world’s biggest beverage can manufacturer Rexam from the UK had its cans designed by a visual artist with a typical Portuguese motif. The limited edition is hoped to highlight Portugal’s cultural diversity – and place the company’s own beer centre stage in the public awareness again. The high-quality packaging quality comes care of a matt coating varnish in conjunction with special HD printing technology. Probably, one of these cans can be found among the in total 64,000 pieces owned by Swiss collector Stefan Frey, who calls the world’s biggest can collection his own.