Valspar Packaging - If it matters

Since 1806, Valspar has been delivering the latest innovations, the finest quality and the best customer service to the packaging, industrial and consumer segments. Alex Kruglov, vice-president technology, global packaging at Valspar Packaging, discusses the company's future plans.

The Valspar Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, US, is one of the largest coatings manufacturers in the world, providing coatings and coating intermediates to a wide variety of customers. With more than 9,500 employees in 25 countries, Valspar is uniquely positioned to supply customers with coatings solutions to suit their needs.

Valspar Packaging provides internal and external coating systems for nearly every light-metal packaging end use, including beverage cans, food cans and general packaging containers. The company adds value to can-makers, end-makers and brand-owners through its technology leadership, regulatory expertise and best-in-class technical service.

As the leading global supplier of packaging coatings, Valspar Packaging helps develop, protect and advance the packaging design and heritage of many of the world's best-known brands. Valspar strongly supports the metal package - a highly sustainable material, which is infinitely recyclable. No other packaging provides a longer shelf life, better preserves product quality and offers greater protection against spoilage than light-metal packaging.

Coatings and sustainability

Coatings ensure cans continue to be the safest way to preserve nutritional value, freshness and taste. They continue to deliver better cost, performance and environmental benefits to can-makers. Coating formulations continue to evolve, providing material and process savings and energy reduction, as well as environmental benefits.

In the past, new coating technology was focused on improving can production performance and food safety. Today, innovation is driven not only by higher can production line speeds, new foods and beverages with different pack requirements, but also increasing international regulatory compliance requirements, as well as evolving consumer preferences.

Thus, coatings have an increasingly important role in the sustainability of the light-metal can. Coatings are influencing consumer choices and brand recognition. Now more so than ever, coating companies are concerned with regulatory agencies, brand-owner and consumer preferences, and even NGO interests.

The dynamics in the coatings world are changing due to consumer influences. Consumers are not only more health conscious, but are now also more aware of the materials in the environment around them and their potential or perceived impact on their personal health.

Epoxy coatings have been the standard for the light-metal packaging industry. They provide the performance needed for most of the industry's end uses. Transitioning to non-BPA coatings has been a challenge to coatings manufacturers and created a diverging platform space. To date, there is no universal platform with performance and cost parity to epoxy.

The transition to non-BPA brings challenges to can-makers too. These challenges typically include SKU complexity, higher costs, commercial run capability, robustness, yield losses, and changing regulatory requirements and consumer preferences. Valspar is committed to meeting these challenges and working towards sustainable solutions. Valspar already has the broadest non-BPA product portfolio available in the industry.

Next generation

Chemicals of concern will define future roadmaps for coatings. Drivers for the next generation of coatings will include more chemicals that will be under pressure to be removed due to consumer preferences for fewer chemicals. Brand-owners will likely deselect chemicals of concern based on public perception and associated value.

Coating specifications will also become more important as the industry consolidates, and packaged food is imported and exported. Global implications and regulations will have a domino effect on the industry. This is all new territory for the brand-owner and that is where coatings companies such as Valspar can add value, helping brand-owners navigate the safety of coatings, specifications management and education of stakeholder groups as the industry moves to non-BPA coatings even without regulatory mandates.

Valspar's approach to new product development - 'safety by design' - meets these changing demands as it includes screening for materials of concern up front in the process for regulatory and environmental compliance - materials are designed to minimise risk and to ensure market acceptance and sustainability.

The future of coatings will depend on consumer choices, brand-owner strategies and new regulations. Coatings are no longer invisible to consumers as chemical awareness in mainstream society is on the rise. The role of coatings in can sustainability is also increasing. Material innovation and new conversion technologies can deliver coating solutions meeting high-performance requirements as coating innovation will be driven by deselected materials.

Valspar is committed to supporting the metal can, which remains the safest, and most sustainable and recyclable package, in the industry. As technology and science, consumer awareness and product safety naturally evolve, Valspar has the capabilities and drive to lead the metal can into the future.

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