We may be in a period of change, what with a growing shift towards on-line shopping, healthier foods and drinks and the like, but the canmaking industry is in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.

While these trends are dominating the mature markets in North America and Europe, there is enough growth in China and South East Asia to keep the canmakers and their suppliers busy for at least the next three years.

As business analyst Arthur Stupay points out this month, the top five canmakers are planning to invest at least US$6 billion in capital projects over the next three years. If all other canmakers are taking a similarly positive view, this is highly encouraging.

We’ve already seen that in the North American beverage can industry there’s been a tipping point so that new plants catering for a wider range of can sizes have been brought on line, such as with the Crown facility in New York State, and with Ball’s in Arizona due to start this year. The food can business is in pretty good shape too, despite a poor season last year.

Even more encouraging is the advance of new technology in the aerosol can business, as shown in this issue’s feature about the D&I lines being set up by Mall+Herlan that offer significant lightweighting savings.

With plant startups in South Asia over the past year, and more in the pipeline, it will be interesting to see how this is reflected at the Cannex show in China being held from 15-18 May.

It will be the biggest ever Cannex with over 200 exhibiting companies already signed up, lending support to the view that the industry couldn’t be in better shape, and showing confidence in a market that is demanding metal packaging in ever more diverse applications.

As Arthur Stupay says: “The future has never looked better for our industry, with its global reach, to take advantage of worldwide growth. Also, canmakers have the resources to accelerate new product development, which may in the future be apparent in body and closure design.”

John Nutting