New technology is transforming the beverage can industry. Beverage Packaging Innovation talks to CROWN Bevcan Europe and Middle East's Matt Twiss, market and business development director, about how the company is designing innovative products - and helping the environment along the way.
Matt Twiss: Crown - the parent company of CROWN Bevcan Europe and Middle East - has a long history of leading the industry through innovative packaging technology; 2017 marks our 125th anniversary. Our storied heritage began with a singular invention: the bottle cap, which is also known as the Crown cork. In 1892, William Painter set out to improve the packaging of carbonated soft drinks and beer, and to enhance the experiences consumers had with these products. His invention changed the trajectory of the beverage industry and established the hallmarks that still guide our company today: curiosity, innovation, quality and sustainability.
Over the past 125 years, the company that Painter founded has grown into a strong global enterprise with 24,000 employees, and 146 plants in 36 countries and annual sales in excess of $8 billion. We have built a diversified metal-packaging technology portfolio that serves the beverage, food, personal-care, household, and luxury markets in both established and emerging markets.
The company's Accents variable-printing technology enables up to 24 different designs to be printed onto beverage cans in a single run. This allows brands to launch special edition cans that appeal to the 'individualisation' phenomenon that today's consumers are calling for.
In the third quarter of 2017, Crown launched three innovative evolutions of our Accents technology: the first allows the close fitting of two colours; the second uses groundbreaking reprographics separation techniques to 'intelligently separate' the files; and third marries the technology for use with decorative finishes - namely the combination of thermochromic, photochromic and tactile inks.
Crown has been working closely with EVRYTHNG, its IoT smart products platform partner, for some time now, and our innovative CrownConnect family of technologies has been designed to help harness the interconnectivity of digital space. This includes breakthroughs in augmented reality Technology shakes up the canned beverages market New technology is transforming the beverage can industry. Beverage Packaging Innovation talks to CROWN Bevcan Europe and Middle East's Matt Twiss, market and business development director, about how the company is designing innovative products - and helping the environment along the way. (AR), supply chain traceability and IoT. Crown has developed the technology to individually code each and every can end. This means that products are '#BornDigital' and, therefore, have the potential to deliver applications, experiences and analytics at every stage of their life cycle - from the time they are made, shipped and sold to the moment they are consumed and recycled. This allows brands to connect with consumers in real time and will, in turn, help them to tailor current and future campaigns to stay aligned with consumers' behaviour, desires and needs. A good example of this digital interaction is our new Shazamable beer cans, which we developed with Island Records. These forward-thinking initiatives will become part of daily lives - just like packaging - and Crown intends to be at the forefront of the industries and markets they serve.
Packaging - especially metal packaging - is the perfect medium to capitalise on the added value that AR can bring to brands and consumers. Crown's SeeThrough technology enables consumers to view the contents of a pack before they buy a product; for example, we have developed an AR experience where a consumer can scan a tin to see the biscuit selection inside, and they can 'touch' a biscuit to bring up a description and 'tasting notes'. This allows direct interaction between the consumer, brand and product at the point of purchase or consumption.
With decorative finishes, such as thermochromic inks, it is essential to create a design knowing that the client wants to use colour-change inks - and not to simply apply thermochromic inks to an existing design. This is where the Crown Bevcan Studio comes in. A good example came earlier this year, when Lipton approached Crown to co-develop a strikingly innovative special edition can to emphasise their partnership with the Tomorrowland music festival in Belgium.
Crown's reprographics team worked closely with Lipton's design agency to maximise the impact of the inks. The end result was a beverage can that essentially has two faces - before and after cooling - which enhances the branding and 'love' theme. It enables the can to be 'brought to life' by consumers through direct interaction. Thermochromic inks are just one out of a range of new Colourful World beverage can decorative finishes that were launched by Crown in 2017.
MiniVault was the second stage of our partnership with La Colombe. We initially partnered with La Colombe to develop the InnoValve can with the objective of enabling millions of consumers, who who may not be able to visit a cafe, to access La Colombe Draft Latte coffee. MiniVault was the next step; it created a product that allows consumers to home brew the perfect cup of coffee, just like they would get a La Colombe cafe. This product is the first of its kind, in that it pairs a 15cl slim can with a Crown full aperture 360 End - a first for the US market.
Though we have a long history, we are always looking at ways to innovate. Crown changes and reinvents what we do as the needs of our clients evolve. Our customer technical service and studios are consistently recognised as best in class and, here at Crown, we have a strong record of delivering real innovation. The company is already making strong strides towards reaching its sustainability goals. In 2016, we set a target to reduce energy consumption by 5.0% per billion standard units of production by the end of 2020. As of the end of 2016, Crown had already exceeded its target and reduced energy consumption by 5.3% per billion standard units.
We have set our own stringent sustainability targets, and we work to become more sustainable on a daily basis. This ranges from installing energy-efficient equipment and lighting to reducing water usage, establishing more efficient logistic flows, and lightweighting the cans and ends that we manufacture. I'm very happy that this has been recognised by the industry. EcoVadis, a supplier of sustainability ratings in Europe, recently put Crown in the top 3.0% of suppliers assessed in all categories, and in the top 2.0% of similar companies for its submission to CDP's climate change evaluation programme.
Crown is always evolving to match the needs of its customers, consumers and the wider market; for example, we have announced the construction of a beverage can plant in Parc Sagunt, just north of Valencia in Spain. We look forward to building on the success of our two existing Spanish beverage facilities in Agoncillo and Seville. More broadly, we have a very healthy product and process pipeline to fuel the next 125 years of Crown.