Speciality is key

Rich Grimley, chief operating officer, Rexam Beverage Can Americas talks to CanTech International about the North American market

While the overall beverage can market in North America remains fairly flat, Rexam has seen strong growth in speciality sizes. The company has 18 manufacturing locations across the area.

“We are the largest producer of 24oz cans in the region and numerous brands are using this size to differentiate their brands and achieve a favourable price point at retail,” explains Rich Grimley, chief operating officer, Rexam Beverage Can Americas.

Distinctive packaging is also important in building a beverage business. “We are seeing strong interest in cans, because cans provide a larger brand space for graphics than other beverage packaging, and with aluminium, colours are much more distinctive and noticeable,” remarks Grimley, “This is why we are seeing strong growth in cans in the convenience store channel where shelf space is restricted and brands need an eyecatching package to quickly draw interest. Categories seeing growth due to these can advantages include beer, teas, juices and energy drinks.”

Energy drinks continue to gain an increasing market share in North America, as they do elsewhere.

“The energy drink category remains strong, delivering year-over-year growth. We’re seeing brands further build this category with product extensions that include vitamin enhancements, low calorie options etc. It’s a category where there is still quite a bit of opportunity, and the beverage can has a lot to do with the category’s growth,” notes Grimley.

An important market

The beverage can market in North America is the largest in the world, with about 100 billion cans produced.

Grimley knows that its importance cannot be underestimated.

“While the overall market is flat, we are seeing strong growth in speciality sizes with brands determining new niches for cans in consumer channels once thought unavailable, such as the single serve market in convenience stores,” he says. “We are also encouraged by our consumers and our customers increasing attention to environmental and sustainability concerns as the beverage can is superior across environmental aspects.”

Grimley points to the fact that the can is recycled at more than double the rate of any other beverage package. “As an industry, we have reduced our carbon footprint about 44 per cent in the last 17 years,” he states proudly. “It also delivers the best filling and distribution economics. So we are confident of the can’s position, and look to build on the strengths of our product and its inherent advantages in helping our customers build their brands
and bottom lines.”

While there was a lot of talk about the state of the economy during 2010, Grimley believes companies will see a brighter outlook in 2011.

“The recession has had an effect on all businesses, but the can market in the region is tracking to be slightly down in 2010, which is consistent with past trends. Beverage can volume normally remains solid through recessions and economic uncertainty,” he adds.

Expansion plans

Going forward there must be more of a focus on the beverage can’s unique advantages as a packaging type – something that Grimley is well aware of.

“We continue building strong relationships with growth customers seeking to take advantage of the can’s unique advantages to build their business,” he explains.

“We are especially enthused with growth in speciality sizes, particularly our 24oz package. In fact, we will be increasing capacity of this size about 13 per cent through 2012 to meet the needs of our customers.

Grimley insists that it is not just a business simply based on volume and price.

“We are discussing with customers an entire solution across their brand, package choice, graphics, filling, distribution and retail display,” he says. “This strategic direction, combined with the can’s advantageous place in an increasingly environmental-focused market, positions us well for the future.

“The key to our success is our people and the relationships we build with customers and suppliers to deliver products consumers recognise for quality and environmental superiority. This strong business model will support the businesses of our customers as well as the goals and objectives of our company’s respective shareowners.”

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