Beyond Beer and Soda: Cans and the Future of Beverages Packaging in the Americas

February 2023

The metal beverage can is gaining ground rapidly in the beverage industries of both Latin and North America. Cans continue to grow share in their core categories of beer and carbonates while expanding into a diverse mix of new functional and wellness-orientated beverages. As sustainability pressure grows, the beverage can will only become more important, though major challenge remains in creating true closed-loop recycling.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key findings

Beer and carbonates dominate can packaging but the mix is starting to diversify

By 2026, about a fifth of all beverage cans in the Americas will be used for drinks that are not beer or carbonates, a remarkable jump in a short period of time (it was less than a tenth until a few years ago). With cans still increasing share within beer and carbonates as well, this points to a future in which beverages are ever-increasingly to be found in cans.

Can usage in beer and carbonates will still increase even among category headwinds

For beer, cans will need to focus on capturing emerging segments like craft and non-alcoholic in order to hedge against future trouble in the core lagers, while in carbonates the key will not be fighting the overall carbonates decline and instead aiming to poach occasions from PET. In both cases, sustainability will be a key selling point and one that cans will need to communicate effectively.

Healthier and functional beverages will be the key emergent growth segment

At a regional level, energy drinks have done the most so far to bring cans into new categories, although in North America waters and alcoholic RTDs have shown how emergent segments have a strong tendency to appear in cans. Collectively, it can be said that new forms of alcohol and functional soft drinks are the key areas into which cans will expand in the future.

Infinite recyclability is the can’s core sustainability advantage and one that needs to be made truly a reality

The aluminium production process is highly energy intensive; so, if the beverage can is truly to be sustainable, it needs closed-loop recycling. Parts of the Americas are already at near 100% recycling rates while others recycle less than half of their cans. Future legislation, particularly targeting plastics, will be needed to boost rates in these laggard countries.

Key findings
The 2020s will be a decade of major growth in metal beverage can usage
Cans increase their share of beer as Big Beer looks towards a diversified future
Cans tighten their hold of a stagnating carbonates category
Where is the growth beyond beer and carbonates?
The future of alcoholic RTDs is significant to the demand for beverage cans
Consumers remain packaging agnostic when it comes to sustainability
The decline in food cans shows how wellness trumps sustainability
Legislative support will be needed to push beverage packaging into full sustainability
Future legislation will help close the loop in regional laggards
The volatility of aluminium prices is a weakness for beverage cans
The slim can has become a way to communicate wellness
Life after Liquid Death: Lessons in can-based innovation
Conclusion: cans and the beverage industry of 2040


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