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Now beverage cans will open wide-- really, really wide

Suddenly, it seems, U.S. brewers are looking to change one of the most popular and endearing features of their cans--the easy-opening features. Last month (See PW, August '96, page 8), we reported on the conversion by Miller Brewing Co., Milwaukee, WI, from its standard, easy-opening stay-on tab (SOT) end to a large opening end (LOE) developed for Miller by Reynolds Metals Co.

(Richmond VA). Now Coors Brewing Co. Golden CO is teaming up with its joint venture partner American National Can Co. (ANC) (Chicago IL) to introduce its own version of the widemouth easy-opening end to give consumers "a more glass-like drinking experience." The 204 aluminum end is the new standard for all Coors Light cans. For now Coors Light foil laminated paperboard carriers produced by Graphic Packaging Corp. (Wayne PA) carry a corner violator calling attention to the changed cans inside. With the number two and three U.S. breweries opening wide so consumers can have less restricted access to their suds can Anheuser-Busch number one in the market be far behind? Probably not. Word around the beverage can industry is that AB's Metal Container Corp. (St. Louis MO) is perfecting its own big mouth. Reynolds and ANC meanwhile have developed families of LOEs for use on teas juices still drinks and carbonated soft drinks. With everyone citing research showing strong consumer preference for the big mouths and no one citing overly challenging technological hurdles in developing and producing the new ends one wonders why this good idea didn't come along sooner? Painting a packaging picture by the numbers With the Pack Expo show just around the corner (November 17-21 McCormick Place Chicago) the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (Arlington VA) has issued its Second Annual Packaging Machinery Shipments and Outlook Study. It's the best of several recent studies and statistical reports being released by various organizations. This detailed report is well worth the $2 non-PMMI member price tag for market analysts and new product/package development specialists. Based on the input of both PMMI and non-PMMI packaging machinery manufacturers it offers an interesting and insightful perspective on packaging trends as reflected in sales trends for 17 classes of packaging equipment. There is no hype here only clear reporting. It notes for instance that while 1995 packaging machinery shipments rose 10.9% over the 1994 figure reaching $3.82 billion shipment growth is slowing and expected to average only 4.6% annually through 1998. Spending only a little time analyzing the numbers you can rank packaging machinery categories and draw your own market conclusions. The top five packaging machinery categories in terms of 1995 vs. 1994 sales growth rates for instance finds palletizing depalletizing and pallet unitizing in first place. The next four categories are: * Case/tray forming/loading/sealing * Skin/blister packaging * Vertical form/fill/seal equipment * Liquid fillers The Dairy and Food Industries Supply Assn. Inc. (McLean VA) includes some numbers on packaging equipment in its Annual Capital Equipment and Supplies Study. Released last month it suggests that U.S. and Canadian dairies and juice processors will be increasing their packaging machinery expenditures by an average of 2.7% spending on average $310 for packaging equipment. The equipment at the top of DFISA's top five packaging list (ranked by average expenditures) are: * Extended shelf life/aseptic fillers ($157) * Gabletop carton fillers ($44) *Case/carton forming filling sealing ($37) * Case handling equipment ($31) * Palletizers/depalletizers ($26) DFISA's study is available to non-members for $200. For $375 the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute (Englewood NJ) will send you the Summary and Analysis report of its 1995 Consumer Buying Habits Study. There you'll learn that fully 70% of the supermarket shopper's buying decisions are made in the store--a jump from 66% a decade ago. Among the food products most likely to be impulse buys: candy/gum fresh sweet baked goods pickles/olives/relish salsa and dip and shelf-stable prepared foods. The power of packaging (and the point-of-sale promotion that may accompany it) comes across loud and clear in POPAI's data on package-stimulated impulse purchases which add on average 12% to the bill at checkout. Pieced together these studies reflect a food processing industry intent on streamlining distribution costs extending shelf life and appealing to consumers. Those consumers unlike their counterparts of a generation or two ago are less likely to be weekly shoppers working from lists on planned menus. Increasingly they are grazers stopping on the way home from work looking for quick ideas to serve for supper. c

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