Matthew Twiss, marketing and business development director, Crown Bevcan Europe and Middle East, told BeverageDaily that Crown has been supporting the craft brewing movement in North American for some time. More recently it has seen the trend move into the UK, and now further across Europe.
“The UK developed off the back of the North American market; and in the last 12 to 24 months we’ve seen increased interest from a continental European perspective,” he said.
Craft brewers are interested in cans for both aesthetic and practical reasons, said Twiss.
“There are a number of motivations. More and more craft brewers are looking for differentiation; brand differentiation is important. It’s natural that the packs they want to use need to stand out as much as possible. Not just on the retailer shelves; but also in pubs and clubs. From a can perspective, it offers 360 degree graphics.”
On cans, differentiation in design can come from the ability to have highly coloured graphics and different finishes – such as matte varnish or soft touch – that looks different from mainstream metal packaging.
“Also, from a physical aspect, a can is great in that it protects the content, the beer inside the can,” continued Twiss. “The main benefit is no light can get through the barrier of the aluminium or steel can, and protects the beer.”
In contrast to larger manufacturers, craft brewers are often completely new to the process of creating packaging or using cans.
While craft brewers are “clearly the experts in brewing”, they want help and support when it comes to packaging development, said Twiss. However, they still want to be very much involved in this process.
Brewers can visit Crown’s European Design Studio in Leicester, UK, to develop their cans alongside Crown’s experts.
“These brewers are very much hands-on,” said Twiss. “Due to the general size of craft brewers, they tend to have a relatively small team, lots are the owners of the company and are developing the brands. They’re very much wanting to be involved in the design, artwork, they want to see the proofs, see the cans being produced.”
Beyond the can itself, Crown offers brewers help with aspects such as projecting volumes or looking at packaging lines, added Twiss.
Case study: BrewDog
Crown recently worked with BrewDog to develop a 400 cans per minute filling line in the Scottish craft brewer’s Aberdeen production centre. The line is used to package the premium branded beer Punk IPA in 33cl and 50cl cans. It also packages Dead Pony Club; This. Is. Lager.; and Jack Hammer in 33cl cans.
The brewer is developing can designs with Crown, using a soft touch varnish finish as a tactile effect to reduce the reflectivity of metal and create a premium look.