10 ways Covid-19 has changed the can making industry forever

The consequences of Covid-19 will impact on every individual across the globe. At present, the future for many looks uncertain, but there is some inevitability about the changes to how the can making business will do business. Here are 10 likely consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic to the industry.

Death of the trade show?

Trade shows within the can making industry have been a staple for many years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the extensive travel schedule for many, and the high cost and high time outlay of shows may see some companies within the industry examine the necessity of some trade events. There’s obviously an importance in having that personal touch when doing business, but expect to see the acceleration of less global events, where staff have to take a week out of their schedule to attend. Trade organisers may need to adapt to survive. Expect more online seminars and virtual meetings.

Reducing carbon footprint

In the past two years there has been a growing call for businesses and individuals to be more mindful of its carbon footprint. Over the past few weeks, many businesses have had to adapt to less global travel to meet customers and conduct business, which usually results in significant expenditure when factoring in travel, accommodation, subsistence and entertaining. With modern forms of communication, businesses have realised that video calls, and the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are useful tools to conduct meetings and still ensure that personal touch. Business hasn’t grinded to a halt like some were expecting. Expect to see these trends intensify in the coming years, with the added bonus of reducing carbon footprint.

Growth of AI and robotics

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen significant stress to many companies’ workforce, and the pace of artificial intelligence and robotics will only accelerate. Back in 2019, editorial contributor Karen McKenzie forecasted the increasing importance of robotics to the can making industry, and this pandemic will only speed up Industry 4.0, with the use of robots and remote access for plant managers using smart technology.

Increase in flexible working

On the administration and office based side of the industry, Covid-19 has brought the working from home revolution to many that had previously not experienced it. So far, many have enjoyed the reduction in time spent travelling to the office, and flexibility to their day; particularly those with young children. For those already advocating flexible working, the impact on day-to-day business life has been reduced compared to those advocating a ‘bums on seat’ approach. With the changing demands of family life and the modern world, expect to see working from home becoming the norm for many, or at least part of their working week.

Canned food renaissance

We’ve seen a boom in the two-piece can making sector, with beverage cans thriving in the past few years. Food cans on the other hand have been the poor relation, with a fairly flat growth rate, particularly in Europe. With a lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables and other products caused by Covid-19, the humble food can has risen in prominence during the past couple of months. Expect this trend to continue, as the versatility and freshness of canned food products are sampled by a new audience. With increased media coverage thanks to celebrity chefs such as Jack Monroe and Phil Vickery extolling the virtues of canned produce, it’s a segment of the industry that can look forward to a revival in the coming years, if the industry keeps up the marketing traction.

A new generation of can makers

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the potential future problems of the can making industry in the mature nature of its workforce. With many in the industry approaching retirement age, there is a need for new blood to help drive the industry forward, particularly with new technologies that now seem likely to become mainstream. Expect to see an increased emphasis on apprenticeship schemes and an active recruitment drive to ensure a can making ‘brain drain’ doesn’t put exceptional strain on the industry.

Supply chain diversification

In January and early February, we saw a crisis for many that rely on Chinese companies as part of its supply chain. With as many as 81% of companies globally relying on Chinese suppliers, the pandemic has exposed how some companies have been relying on only a set number of partners in which to conduct business. Fast forward two months and we have a similar situation in Europe and North America, with supply chain issues affecting those with only a limited pathway to trade. In light of this, expect to see a divestment in supply, an increase of local supply chains and multinationals expanding their local presence in territories across the world.

Increase of buying local

To complement the changing nature of the supply chain, a number of independent retailers and outlets are feeling the pinch of the global lockdown period. The landscape of retailing could well change forever. As a caveat to the changing nature of supply, the increase of sustainability issues and pressures on globalisation due to Covid-19, there may well be a trend, particularly in the developed world, of a rejection of globalisation, and a return to buying local and supporting independents – well, those that have managed to survive this intense period.

Health is wealth

An acceleration of the increasing health trends we have been seeing in the past few years look inevitable. With those most at risk of Covid-19 and other viruses the elderly and those with underlying health issues, lifestyle and health will become ever-important post-coronavirus. How the industry can galvanise these issues remains to be seen, but canned products extolling the virtues of health, sustainability, and goodness may well thrive. Will this see a decrease in canned alcoholic beverages? Maybe – so expect to see the continued growth of low and no alcohol versions, and healthy alternatives.

Change in social customs

Covid-19, self-isolation and social distancing are phrases we’ll never forget. In many cultures, the handshake greeting or the kiss on the cheek may well become a thing of the past. The issues of hygiene and how quickly colds and flu can be spread will on the minds of many, and it could well spell a revolution in how people meet and greet. It’ll be fascinating to see if and how this develops. 12 months ago, the view that a handshake could become extinct would seem daft, but it’s certainly not out of the question now…

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