Slimline beer cans and the future of can formats

As brewers seek to differentiate their products and feed into consumer trends around health and wellbeing, beer can formats are being revisited.

While beer has traditionally been in 330ml or 375ml formats, brewers are changing their perceptions of what beer is and what it can be.

Carlton & United Breweries’ announcement earlier this month that it was launching a fruit beer in a slimline can highlighted this move.

The Asahi Beverages-owned brewer said in a media release that it was “shaking up the beer market by releasing a new type of beer as drinkers increasingly look for sweeter and lower bitterness alcoholic drinks”.

The major brewer suggested that the “new category” of flavoured beer catered to the changing palates of customers, as well as the growing recognition of RTDs and seltzers – which often come in slimline formats.

A CUB spokesperson told Brews News that it had undertaken extensive consumer research prior to making the decision.

“[This research] indicates slimline cans are increasingly popular among many Australian drinkers,” they said.

“Using slimline cans helps emphasise that Fruity Beer is different from our regular beers. A slimline can helps us communicate that this is not beer as you know it.”

Can formats have often been an indicator to consumers of what type of product they will be getting.

Brewers have tended to shy away from 250ml sleek or slimline cans, unless they are also producing seltzers in their portfolio, which has allowed them to differentiate between the non-beer product and their core ranges.

Can supplier Orora said in its latest annual results that slim and sleek can volumes were up generally in FY22, which it said was due to improved activity in the off-premise and convenience channels compared to FY21.

Orora has seen demand increase across the board, not just in beer, but for different can formats. The company has commenced construction of a second can line at its Dandenong facility and additional ends capacity at its Ballarat facility in Victoria, totalling $110 million in investment.

Orora also announced an $85 million multi-size cans line at its Revesby site in NSW, with construction set to commence in the coming months.

“Orora is proud to have recently announced investments to increase capacity in all formats of can bodies in Australia,” a spokesperson toldBrews News.

“These investments serve to support market requirements, as our customers and their brands continue to seek ways to differentiate in their respective categories.

“The need for differentiation has seen a trend of brands towards sleek, slim and large format cans.

“We expect this trend to continue and our investments have us well placed to continue to sustainably meet future market requirements in Australia and New Zealand.”

While there is a current move to slimline cans, it is not the first time brewers have experimented with the format. The Australian Brewery launched its can range with 355ml slimline cans in 2013.

At the time a brewery spokesperson said the decision was made to distance the brewery from mainstream can brands.

“Being the first we thought this was critical and if you’re going to push the envelope anyway, you may as well push it hard,” the brewery said at the time.

However, by 2016 the brewery had reverted to a traditional 375ml format. A spokesperson said of the change that the brewery’s feedback was that the cans looked smaller than they actually were.

“I got sick of telling people they were bigger than most bottles! After the change we saw a significant increase in off-premise sales.”

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