Metal food cans are set to continue to decline globally over 2016-2021, challenged by consumers shifting away from canned to chilled and frozen food. Despite improvements through easy-open cans ends, metal food cans will also continue to lose out to other formats that offer added functionality, such as thin wall plastic containers and pouches. Nevertheless, growth opportunities still exist in developing regions, such as in shelf stable seafood, which remains a popular staple product in cans.
Retail volume sales of metal food cans fell by an annual average of 1% over 2011- 2016, to 72.4 billion units. In mature developed regions, consumers are moving away from canned food, turning to chilled food instead, as it is considered to offer greater freshness. This decline is partially offset by growth in developing regions, where preserved food in cans is popular as fridge ownership remains low.
Shelf stable seafood is the category maintaining total volumes of cans in food. It remains a popular staple globally, and metal food cans continue to perform well in shelf stable seafood, since it remains one of the best functioning pack types for this product in terms of preservation, presentation and value.
As competition from chilled and frozen food increases, brand owners are aiming to boost consumers’ expenditure on added-value products, while trying to reverse the old fashioned image of metal food cans, launching canned seasonal products, smaller pack sizes and premium canned products. This strategy is proving successful in France, where volumes of canned vegetables are forecast to grow at a 1% CAGR over 2016-2021.
While the penetration of easy open closures for food cans continues to grow, increasing its convenience aspect, the pack type is still facing competition from other pack types considered more convenient, such as pouches, which offer single serve portions and microwavability. Another competing pack type is liquid cartons, which offer convenience of dispensing and reclosability, and more premium and reclosable rigid plastic containers.
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