When Willard Look founded his seafood business on the coast of Maine in 1917, he turned to metal food cans to ensure the quality and taste of his products. Close to a century later, Look’s Gourmet Food Company continues to reinforce the message that good canned food is an invaluable part of every modern pantry. Look’s Gourmet relies on metal packaging for its Bar Harbor product line and depends on the service and support of CROWN Food Packaging North America, a business unit of Crown Holdings, Inc. (www.crowncork.com).

From seafood meats to chowders and from bisques to Indian Pudding, metal cans continue to provide the most efficient and effective packaging for Look’s Gourmet’s products. The company prides itself on bringing all-natural foods to the marketplace and using no added preservatives. Food cans are an ideal match, as they naturally preserve product freshness for an extended period of time. Vitamin and nutrient levels remain stable during the product’s entire shelf life, thanks in part to the superior barrier properties of metal.

“Consumers may think that canned food has to have preservatives in it, but the can is really the preservative itself,” says Cynthia Fisher, VP Marketing & Quality Assurance, Look’s Gourmet Food Company. “And if you put really good ingredients inside, the can will protect them until the product is consumed.”

This preservation quality also underlines the safety of canned food. “This is the safest form of food packaging in the world, not only for consumers, but also for the environment,” says Fisher. Metal packaging is 100% recyclable and can be infinitely recycled without degradation of quality. Consumers also often receive money for recycling metal packaging, an incentive that continues to help keep cans out of landfills. Look’s Gourmet uses these very attributes of metal to support its commitment to all-natural products. “The fact that our all-natural food is packaged in metal cans - the most environmentally-conscious packaging format available - really sends the message that we are a sustainable, healthy brand.”

Originally using three-piece cans to package its products, the company has since transitioned many of their products to a two-piece format for enhanced stackability, both on shelf and in transit. With consultation from Crown, Look’s Gourmet utilizes four standard size cans for the Bar Harbor line. The large 46-ounce food-service oriented three-piece cans offer consumers a serving quantity that is perfect for hosting family gatherings. The two-piece 10.5-ounce and 15-ounce cans, in contrast, provide a more typical soup serving. Meanwhile, the 6.5-ounce can, also in a two-piece format, is the perfect size for Look’s Gourmet to market its Bar Harbor seafood meats like lobster and clams.

Look’s Gourmet’s relationship with Crown dates back almost a decade. The company attributes the strong partnership to Crown’s genuine concern with its small business needs. Crown visits Look’s Gourmet’s plant in Whiting, Maine on a regular basis to   provide training and input on preventative maintenance and troubleshooting. Crown’s experts are also always available to answer technical questions and provide counsel on packaging and process improvement. “We are treated as though we are their only customer. Whenever there is an issue or a problem, a Crown customer service representative is quick to address our concerns,” says Fisher. For example, to meet the specs for loading cans into Look’s Gourmet’s warehouse, Crown altered how it bundles pallets.

Look’s Gourmet isn’t the only customer recognizing Crown for excellent customer service. Earlier this year, Hormel Foods Corporation, a multinational manufacturer and marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, awarded Crown with a Spirit of Excellence Award for its role in helping build the company’s brand with consumers. “At Hormel Foods, our strongest business allies differentiate themselves through their dedication to customer support and their ongoing commitment to the very highest quality service,” says Steven Jensen, Corporate Purchasing Manager at Hormel Foods. “Partners like Crown consistently go above and beyond, making a positive impact on our business and our own reputation for excellence.”