By Martin Constable, chairman, The Can Makers
Once you’ve decided you may want to put your product into a can — that it’s right for your brand and audience — the next challenge is knowing how to start. We are receiving more enquiries on this topic than ever before via the Indie Drinks Can Advice Service and so know first-hand the most popular questions. So here are a few top tips to help you get started on your canning journey.
Decide how many cans you want to fill, and who does it
Depending on the volume you want to produce, this will affect which canning choices you have. If you are initially planning a low volume, consider a contract canner, employing a mobile canner, or investing in your own low-volume lines (they start from eight to more than 70 cans per minute).
Many smaller brewers still hold the common misconception that they can’t practically can their beer. But the fact is size and volume are no longer deciding factors. The increase in demand for drinks in cans has driven the launch of a range of affordable, short-run contractor services, mobile canning companies and multiple choices when purchasing very low to high volume in-house lines / systems.
This rise in short-run, contract filler lines and mobile canning line options means that most brewers can successfully put their drink into a can at very competitive prices.
Choose which size can you would like to produce
There is a vast range of aluminium can sizes available — another good feature of this pack format. 330ml cans are popular, but many soft drinks brands, for example, have started choosing trendy slimline options, such as CanOwater. It’s important to consider what size is right for you and your audience.
Think about design: print, sleeves or labels?
This is the fun part — designing the look of your can. The can is such a versatile packaging format with a 360-degree canvas, which makes it great for branding and appealing to the consumer.
New innovations in technology, and paints, lacquers and coatings, mean there is a whole host of opportunities to engage with customers, such as creating funky temperature reveal designs or including a hidden code on the can that users have to scan for more information.
If you are looking for the smallest runs, labelling is the best, most simple option to start out with to brand your can. You can also use sleeving to put your 360-degree designs onto cans after they have been filled.
Some suggested design companies for all the options are listed on the Indie Drinks Can Advice site and they can help you create your vision. You can even mock up your own designs fast using tools like the free and simple to use Can Creator App.
Other benefits of cans
- Cans are air-tight. Seamed ends mean there is no way that air is going to get in until someone pops the ring-pull, eliminating the risk of oxidisation and causing the drink to taste off.
- When it comes to beer in particular, light also has an impact (specifically light with a blue wavelength). When beer has been exposed to ultraviolet light for a period of time, hop-derived molecules break down, binding with sulphur atoms, creating an unpleasant taste and aroma, commonly referred to as ‘skunked’ beer. That’s why it’s so brilliant that cans are solid, allowing no light to pass their walls. They prevent this reaction.
- Canning your drink will not require you to change your gas levels either. In fact, brewers and other drinks makers are choosing cans as they keep the drink’s look and taste just the way they intended.
- Aluminium cans are more lightweight than ever and the walls are thinner than the thickness of a human hair.
- Due to its lightweight, stackable quality, cans are extremely cube efficient and easily transportable. They take up less room, therefore resulting in less transport required, and reducing CO2 produced from shipping etc.
Choose a sustainable packaging option
There is mounting pressure on brands and retailers to improve their sustainability choices and further reduce environmental impact, so choosing a packaging format that meets these criteria is more important than ever.
As the most recycled drinks container in the world, the aluminium drinks can offers a sustainable solution because metal is a permanently available material. Did you know, for example, that 70% of aluminium drinks cans are already recycled in the UK every year or that up to 80% of all metal ever produced is still in use today?
It is inherent in a circular economy that it starts and ends with a new product that can be recycled again and again. Metal’s recycling and re-melting process ensures it is available for reuse without loss of quality.