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    PG Web Extra: Building a Better Can

    What’s happening with packaging innovation

    When it comes to innovative packaging, cans don’t immediately leap to mind, but for companies that offer canned products, such developments are top of mind in such areas as functionality, conveying information and aesthetics.

    “The majority of our product portfolio is available in cans, so we focus on how to resonate with consumers looking for portability, convenience and affordability, while delivering high-quality, great-tasting products,” says David Melbourne, SVP consumer marketing and corporate social responsibility at San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods. “A variety of advances has been used, including litho printing of cans, as well as a host of ways to message benefits for products; easy-open, pull-tab lids; and even easy-peel foil lids.”

    A fellow seafood brand has been working on a similar packaging solution – and plans to tell shoppers all about it. “This fall, Chicken of the Sea becomes the first major seafood brand to introduce easy-open cans across multiple seafood lines at the same time,” observes Maureen McDonnell, director of marketing for the company, also based in San Diego.

    “The new cans with EZ Open lids will be initially available for our most popular products – 5-ounce and 7-ounce Albacore, 7-ounce Chunk Light, and 5-ounce Salmon – and were developed from research showing that our audience wants an easier way to enjoy the lean protein they love, both inside and outside the home. Given the importance of this issue to consumers and the very positive early response, Chicken of the Sea in EZ Open Cans is being positioned as a renovation and is being supported by an integrated Pull It Off marketing campaign featuring an on-can, instant-win game. Beyond the obvious convenience benefits of the new lids, the campaign focuses on the larger lifestyle and portability implications. Now seafood and lean protein fans can enjoy Chicken of the Sea virtually anywhere!”

    Beyond the seafood segment, other canned goods purveyors have been sprucing up their packaging. Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods currently offers all of its Chef Boyardee and Vienna Sausage in cans with easy-open lids, according to Associate Brand Manager Chelsea Herman, who adds, “Depending on the channel, some of our other canned foods are sold with easy-open lids as well,” while Joe Perez, SVP of Jersey City, N.J.-based Goya Foods, notes, “We’ve focused [on] the presentation and design/packaging on new products.”

    Along with making its cans easier to open, Bumble Bee has excelled at creating eye-catching portable items. “Response to our new line of flavored ready-to-eat kits has … been very positive,” notes Melbourne. “The high-impact visual design pops from the shelf, and the product line is positioned well to target consumers looking for grab-and-go solutions that can be eaten anywhere at any time.”

    What’s to come in can design? “We believe in the future, clear canned items will be available for customers in the industry, as they are becoming more eco-conscious,” predicts Benny Smith, manager, media and community relations at Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion. Manufacturers such as Cincinnati-based Milacron are already offering such an option.

    Bumble Bee’s Melbourne also thinks that cans will continue to be a relevant packaging choice, evolving along with shopper needs. “I believe packaging innovation will … be important as consumers look for more convenient, on-the-go solutions,” he says, “and cans definitely are positioned well to tap these growing trends.” 

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