Small but mighty

Caps and closures can play a key role in transforming consumer experience through accessible options and brand innovation. Anne-Marie Hardie examines the market. 

Consumers will look for closures that will protect a product and are easy to use. However, it is the eye-catching design and sustainability attributes of the package that will draw the user to the product in the first place. This demand for technologically innovative and attractive designs has pushed the industry to develop products that will respond to these consumer values. 

According to Allied Market Research, Caps and Closures Market Report, as of 2020, the global caps and closures industry was $46.15 billion and is anticipated to reach 81.33 billion by 2031. Several factors contribute to this growth, including a continued demand for convenient options, technological advancements, heightened concerns about safety, and product differentiation. Traditionally, the caps and closures markets were largely driven by plastic; however, the demand for plastic is decreasing as manufacturers and consumers are seeking sustainable alternatives. North America is anticipated to have the highest surge due to increased adoption of innovative caps and closures and continued investments in manufacturing. 

Ease of use

Today’s consumers actively seek a positive experience with their food and beverage products and having an easy to open closure is critical to delivering this experience. Several caps and closures manufacturers have responded to this demand by providing user-friendly solutions. 

Consumer Convenience Technologies (CCT) launched its aluminium continuous thread CT closure, EEasy lid, in 2019. The closure included a button that, when pressed by the consumer, opened a slit in the vacuum requiring 40 per cent less force to open the product. However, with 80 per cent of the industry using lug lids, CCT recognised that this was a sector that required innovation. In response to this gap in the industry, the company released its aluminium lug lid solution that was both simple for the user to operate while maintaining the freshness of the product. The aluminium lug EEasy lids are manufactured at CCT’s new 12,000 sq foot technology centre in Dayton, Ohio. 

“The closure industry relies on two types of lids: CT lids and lug lids. With 80 per cent of the industry using lug lids, we knew there had to be room for innovation,” said CCT managing partner, James Bach. “While the EEasy Lid was a game-changer for the jar lid industry as a whole, it is now transforming how we look at lug lids as it provides the industry’s first aluminium solution. We’re seeing tremendous interest in the CT version of the EEasy Lid and expect there to be even more interest in the new aluminium lug version.”

Crown Closures Americas, a business unit of Crown Holdings’ Orbit Closure and Ideal Closure products also responds to the need for an inclusive design. The Ideal Closure is a hybrid of a plastisol lined metal disc and plastic band, which provides an excellent barrier while the plastic band facilitates a better grip. 

Crown’s Orbit Closure is a solution that has applicability across the food processing industry, including providing an accessible solution for glass jars that require pasteurisation or sterilisation. The metal lid is created from a central floating panel vacuum sealed to the jar and outer ring. The user opens the product with a slight twist loosening the ring and breaking the seal. Although it has been in the market for over 10 years, the Orbit Closure demonstrates 20 per cent growth year on year, illustrating the significance of inclusive design in caps and closures. From a manufacturing standpoint, the Orbit Closure is easy to adopt into existing lines, as it does not require significant changes to capping equipment. 

Despite the desire for an inclusive design, consumers are also seeking safety and reassurance that the product they are about to consume has not been tampered with. Last year, Silgan Closures captured the audio experience of opening a cap in an online video demonstrating that the signature pop (when a seal is released) provides the end-user with peace of mind. 

A growing market 

Today’s consumers are looking for packaging that responds to their values, including sustainability and an attractive brand design. Caps and closures allow manufacturers an opportunity to differentiate their products from the stack of competitors on the shelf. Although small, closures are a vital part of the consumer experience and are an opportunity for manufacturers to add to their brand messaging.

Mananalu Water, a certified plastic negative water bottle, is a water brand that responds to the sector of consumers that are moving away from plastic. Founded by celebrity Jason Mamoma, this is one brand intending to transform the industry with its innovative aluminium bottle, made from 67 per cent recycled aluminium, and a resealable Silgan aluminium closure. 

Trivium Packaging won an iF Design award
for its infinitely recyclable and reusable bottle
packaging for Rainforest Artestian Water
Image credit: Rainforest Water

Rainforest Artesian Water is another water product packaged in a stunning aluminium water bottle, capturing the attention of consumers and the industry. Trivium Packaging was awarded an iF Design award for its infinitely recyclable and reusable bottle packaging. The bottle, which has a brightly coloured design, includes a spill free aluminium ROPP cap that is both easy to open and reseal. Trivium Packaging also received iF Design awards for two household products, Petal Foaming Hand Soap and Bubble Tree Refillable Solution. The Bubble Tree Refillable Solution also includes a cap with an attached bubble wand providing parents and children with a user-friendly option for bubbles. 

Investing in design 

As the demand for aluminium caps and closures continues to escalate, manufacturers are actively seeking ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This includes providing their clients with a suite of options, including sustainable alternatives and customised designs. 

In May 2021, Altana acquired Henkel’s closure materials business, including the Celox and Sincera brands. The company was integrated into the Actega division and assigned to the metal packaging solutions business line. Actega is heavily focused on innovation, with a mission of combining sustainability with high-quality product decoration. This includes offering low gauge compounds for crown corks, with thickness as low as 0.18 mm in its Svelon line. The recent addition of Actega’s Ecoleaf metallic decorating technology exemplifies their commitment to sustainability and design. This technology will eliminate the need for foil, with every 1kg of pigment used by the system replacing three tonnes of foil. The company currently has six beta units installed at its Lehtre, Germany location, with plans to expand to 20 by the end of the year.

Massilly North America, Brantford, Ontario specialises in metal twist closures for the food and beverage industries. The company is committed to developing customised cap designs working closely with companies to ensure that their brand is represented on their closures. Most of Massilly’s cap designs include a wide channel facilitating the ability for brands to add custom text to their closures. In March 2021, Massilly invested in its first Koenig & Bauer MetalStar 3 metal decorating press to handle the bulk of its printing work which will help facilitate a faster turn around and superior printing. 

In 2022, Bericap, Germany was recognised as one of Germany’s most innovative small and medium-sized enterprises. The company was acknowledged for its focus on sustainability, including using a lighter design and fewer materials in their closure, and for their innovation in the recently launched tethered cap, Bericap ClipAside. This closure provides beverage companies with a proactive solution to the upcoming 2024 legislation requiring plastic caps to remain attached to the bottle after opening. 

Food and beverage remain a highly competitive market, and packaging design is critical to ensure that your product stands out from the masses. Silgan Closures is one company that is continually seeking innovative products to support. Silgan launched its Free Closures for a year contest four years ago, which awards innovative food or beverage companies a free consumer testing report and their choice of up to 500,000 Silgan stock closures over a 12-month period. One of last year’s winners was 10-year-old, Sidnee Rushing, founder of Sidnee Lemonade. “Small businesses and start-ups need help right now, more than ever,” said AJ Miller, director of marketing for Silgan Closures. “Sidnee’s story highlights the plight of an entrepreneur and it is inspirational. It’s just one of many out there.” This year’s winners will be announced at Pack Expo. 

The functionality of the caps and closures is critical. However, functionality, on its own, is no longer enough to move the product off the shelf. To meet the need of today’s market, companies need to recognise that the cap and closure is an opportunity to connect with their consumer. This includes seeking innovative solutions that will both engage the consumer to pick up the product and provide them with a positive user experience. Caps and closures manufacturers are responding to these needs by providing the market with a range of innovative and sustainable solutions. 

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