Key categories for the can (pictured) include energy drinks, functional beverages and beer, while Rexam said the upgrades to its Chicago plant would also include the capability to produce 16oz cans, “a size experiencing growth in a number of beverage categories”.
Online in Q4 of 2012, Rexam said the new capacity complemented its specialty portfolio – four Sleek can sizes, three different resealable options with the Rexam Cap Can – and what it said was its industry leadership with the 24oz can
Asked what capacity the new 12oz Chicago Sleek line would have, and what percentage of Rexam beverage can sales in the States Sleek cans accounted for, Greg Brooke, vice president, corporate affairs, Rexam, said: "We won’t discuss specific line capacity, but can say that the 12 oz. Sleek line at the Chicago plant will address the needs of our customers in the Mid-west and beyond, and our specialty size portfolio represents about 25% of our US volume mix."
Migration from glass?
Quizzed as to whether Rexam was seeing a more migration from glass or standard cans to Sleek, Brooke added: "Customers are indeed moving to cans from other package types...and the move from standard cans to specialty sizes depend on what the marketer wants to do with their brand."
He added: "A good example of the switch that we are seeing is the strong increase in a shift of craft beer customers to cans. Craft beer saw an increase of 11% in volume in 2011 and the popular choice for these customers is cans. In fact they are creating festivals here in the US for this growing relationship indicative of the recent Canned Craft Beer festival in Phoenix last month."
Launched in the US in 2005, Rexam claimed benefits for its Sleek can such as improved pack density offering distribution economies, and a greater number of cans in secondary packaging and on retail shelves.
But asked whether Sleek cans were more expensive for Rexam's customers, Brooke said: "Standard 12 oz. represents the majority of volume so naturally the cost is a bit lower than specialty sizes which now account for about 25% of our volume in the US.
"But the price difference is often made up at retail as consumers are paying more for this differentiation. What looks different, feels different, what enables a brand to stand out, often earns higher margins."
Big brand adoption
Earlier this month, we reported that US Yerba Mate beverage brand Guayaki had tied-up with can maker Rexam to package its new sparkling beverages in 12oz 'sleek' cans, to promote shelf stand out and sustainability.
Guayaki co-founder David Karr told BeverageDaily.com: "We like the Rexam can because it is smaller and we were looking to create a product with less liquid and more interesting for woman.
So how fair did Brooke think it was to say that the Sleek can, launched in 2005/6 - was only really taking off now? "It’s fair to say that volumes continue to grow at a good pace, especially as the larger brands are starting to adopt the package in extending their current portfolio and as they launch new products."
He added: "We continue to balance capacity and demand by addressing any reduction in standard size capacity with line change-overs to specialty sizes indicative of our latest announcement regarding the Chicago plant."