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Coffee marketer launches shapely can

Shaped cans have attracted plenty of attention lately, particularly the cans tested by Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. in Europe (see PW, April '96, p.

Pw 24853 Shacanhavatt 26

4). Also intrigued by the marketing possibilities offered by such cans is The Comfort Food Co. of Wilmington, MA. In March it started shipping its Harmony Bay line of gourmet coffees in 14-oz cans to supermarkets nationwide. Suggested retail price is $6.49. "The technology is generally available," says Comfort's John Sullivan. "Anybody can do it if they have a half-million dollars. The trick is to do it for far less than that." Comfort likes the container not only for its shelf impact but also because, as it tells the trade in promo material, "Harmony Bay Gourmet Coffee Barrels are 100% steel-the world's most recyclable material." Comfort uses in-house "expansion" equipment from Sweden's Bertil Ohlsson AB, represented in the U.S. by Container Machinery Corp. (Kinderhook, NY). The barrel-shaped can starts out as a standard 401/508 welded tinplate cylinder. Basic information and the Harmony Bay brand name are litho-printed on the cylinder. The Bertil Ohlsson equipment, through a hydraulic process described as "stretch forming," transforms the cylinder into a unique container. Comfort then bottom seams it, fills it, seams on a steel lid complete with tear tab, and applies a plastic overcap. It also uses a customized Accraply (Hopkins, MN) labeler to apply a pressure-sensitive film label right between the "hoops" of the barrel. Sullivan figures the customized container is between 20 and 25% more costly than a straight-walled alternative, so profit margins are not as great as with a straight-walled can. But the firm seems excited about the container's prospects. The can occupied center stage at Comfort's Food Marketing Institute trade show booth May 5-8 in Chicago.

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