Sales surge for coatings maker PPG as Americans stock up on canned goods

There has been a surge in demand for PPG’s metal packaging coatings as consumers stock up on canned food and drinks during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company said its sales have increased about 10 per cent since states began imposing stay-at-home orders on millions of people in March and April. Uncertainty about when the lockdown might end has persuaded many families to build up food and drinks supplies, shopping online for canned goods that offer a longer shelf life, according to a local report.

“There was lots of pantry stocking … we have kept rolling,” senior vice president for packaging coatings Amy Ericson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Cans have shelf life, some safety assurance, are convenient and come in various sizes.”

PPG’s sales boom has been replicated across the US and Europe. Research by Nielsen, the data and analytics company, found that in a one-week period in March, US sales of canned meat were up 188 per cent year-on-year and those of soup rose 127 per cent. Before the coronavirus crisis, the sector was forecast to grow to $3.9 billion by 2023, from $2.8bn in 2016.

Some of PPG’s worldwide operations were forced to close due to the pandemic, but PPG’s packaging coatings unit continued to operate flat out. 

To cope with the changes in consumer spending, Ericson explained that PPG had adopted a new business model. And it is one which she thinks could last post-lockdown.

Operations at some of its European plants that were experiencing a Covid-related slowdown – such as those involved in the automotive coatings business – stepped in to “make sure we could fulfil larger demand” as orders stacked up at the packaging coating factories, Ericson said.

PPG was founded in 1883 as Pittsburgh Plate Glass and today is a global supplier of coatings, paints, optical products and specialist materials employing more than 47,000 people worldwide.

While its metal packaging coatings business has grown during the global health crisis, other parts of its operations have slumped. The company has been forced to close plants around the world and is seeking to cut US$170 million from its budget as it forecasts a 35 per cent drop in overall revenue.