Market snapshot: A look at the caps & closures market
Dr. Daniel Abramowicz, executive VP technology & regulatory affairs, Crown Holdings, Inc. weighs in.
Packaging Strategies: What are some current trends within caps/ closures/ lids in the food and beverage space?
Abramowicz: The most important consumer demographic shift that is impacting the development of caps, closures and lids in the North American food and beverage segment is our aging population – and by that I mean anyone over 60 years of age. This particular segment represents a little over 15% of the United States’ population and is expected to have a global spending power of $15 trillion by 2020, but despite that it is often somewhat overlooked by brands.
It has long been understood that one of the key values this group places on packaging is that it is easy to open. However, as brands cater to other prominent demographics, what they may consider to be easy to open can actually be a problem for the aging population. For example, while millennials might find even large diameter twist off lids easy to open, veteran consumers may well feel that the torque needed to open the closure exceeds their ability or comfort level. In the same way, convenient food can lids with pull tabs may, at times, prove hard for some consumers to handle without additional tools to grasp under the tab in order to lift it. It is important, therefore, for brands to have a strategy that accurately reflects the needs of key individual demographics, rather than designing products for the average of a mass population.
PS: Safety is an evident theme within pharmaceutical packaging. Do you see this crossing over into food or beverage?
Abramowicz: Absolutely. Packaging features like safety seals and batch serialization were both originally developed for the pharmaceutical industry and later adopted for the beverage and food markets. Similarly, traceability is increasingly discussed among food experts, particularly for fresh produce and meat and poultry. Since consumers are demanding greater transparency when it comes to the source of their food and drink, brands need to be ready to find a way to easily share that information, such as QR codes or detailed information printed right on the package design.
It is important to remember, however, that promoting food and beverage safety through packaging has been an important consideration for brands for centuries. And the sense of product freshness or safety has been established in consumers’ minds in a number of ways – when, for example, they hear the “pop” of a vacuum metal closure when it is twisted off or the “psst” of a beverage can when it is opened, consumers instinctively have peace of mind that their product is fresh and safe to consume.
PS: Consumption of craft beer is certainly on the rise; are there any new closures/ beverage ends that are debuting specifically for this market?
Abramowicz: Ever since Crown launched the full aperture 360 End® in North America with Sly Fox Brewing, an ever-increasing number of craft brewers are expressing interest in this unique lid. A major reason it is such a hit with craft brewers is because it allows consumers to appreciate the full aroma of the beverage when the entire lid is removed from the can, enhancing the flavor of the beer. At the same time, the convenience of not needing to pour the beer into a cup, and the ease of recycling the container upon use, are both additional factors that brewers and consumers alike appreciate.
Another innovation that is proving popular with craft brewers is the Global Vent™ – an end that was specifically developed for the beer segment. The lid consists of dual aperture openings that allow air to flow more easily into the beverage can when the liquid is poured out. This design improves flow rate by 30-40% and also facilitates a far smoother pour. Resealable twist-off closures on metal bottles are also beginning to capture the attention of this market segment.
PS: Which consumer trends such as portability, ease of use, resealability, etc. do you see shaping beverage or food containers in the future?
Abramowicz: More customized packaging for different consumer groups, and providing greater packaging options for those groups, are both impacting the food and beverage industry.
For example, a large sub-section of consumers are looking for packaging that facilitates portion control and for single-serve products that fit their on-the-go life styles. Often, these consumers are seeking smaller packaging that is light in weight and convenient to bring with them for different occasions. New technologies such as self-heating containers for food and beverages are poised to provide even greater freedom for those consumers who want “what they want,” when and where they want it.
Meanwhile, there are other consumers who are looking for larger containers and greater product volumes – particularly those who shop at club stores. This demographic seeks products that are easy to store and packaging with a long shelf-life that is resealable so that they can consume the food or drink over time - or it share with others. Brands have to be ready to cater to everyone since the spectrum of consumer wants and needs is growing ever more diverse.
World demand for caps and closures is projected to increase 5.6% per year to $58 billion in 2019. In unit terms, demand is expected to rise 4% annually to 2.2 trillion. Although the majority of cap and closure demand in unit terms is for low-cost commodity types such as plastic screw caps and metal crowns, market value growth will be driven by the growing use of more sophisticated closure products in packaging for pharmaceuticals and beauty products. World Caps & Closures, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. (freedoniagroup.com) also states that in the food market, value gains will be driven by growing use of dispensing caps and other higher priced closures. Growth in the pharmaceutical market will be boosted in part by regulatory changes favoring value added child resistant and senior friendly closures.
World Wide Packaging LLC (WWP; WWPinc.com) launches a unique package for lip gloss, dubbed ‘Flip Gloss’ due to its flip-down top. The flip-top, which is available with or without an integrated mirror, enables easy removal of the application rod, as the cap is secured when the top is flipped down. The wide front of the innovative package allows for a variety of creative branding opportunities, and images can be embossed on the top portion, enabling the product to stand out in the crowded lip gloss space. The product’s heavy wall vial base and absence of threads create a very thin, full-size package.