With over 2,822 craft breweries across the United States, a growing number are experimenting with alternative packaging formats to differentiate and enhance the quality of their beer.

In particular, metal is increasing in popularity as a result of the many important benefits that the format offers.

For brewers unaccustomed to packaging their craft brews in metal, the prospect of using a new material can be daunting. But this need not be the case. You can successfully introduce metal into your packaging portfolios – here are some key tips.

1. Understand the value of metal packaging

Metal packaging is valued for its portability – it is durable enough to keep up with consumers’ active lifestyles, without any concern of accidental breakage. Metal is sustainable – it is 100% and infinitely recyclable, making it a strong packaging choice for environmentally-conscious shoppers. A metal can also keeps the drink fresh, by blocking sunlight and preventing the beer from spoiling, while cooling more rapidly than other packaging materials.

2. Take the right steps

Consider the kinds of changes that need to be made to your existing packaging lines and processes. There is going to be a certain amount of new equipment required for metal packaging. And that doesn’t mean entry into canning is cost-prohibitive; rather it’s an opportunity to consider the future of your business. Wherever possible, look at purchasing expandable equipment that will enable you to grow your product lines quickly and easily, as the market requires.

3. Recognize that there may be differences

Graphics should be considered early on in the process. For craft brews, perhaps more than any other beverage, the graphics associated with a particular beer can be more important to your brand than the name. You can achieve a level of artwork and imagery quality on metal cans that is superior to that on printed labels, but the decoration process is going to be very different. For example, cans have a larger surface area than bottles, so designs will need to be reformatted. This added space brings some distinct benefits, as it serves as a billboard of sorts and allows graphics to stand out more.

4. Get the most from your packaging partnership

It’s vital to establish a partnership with your supplier as early on in the process as possible. Be prepared to work step-by-step through the process with us to identify the priorities on each side. That will also be a good opportunity to troubleshoot any potential issues or problems before they arise. Early communication is key - talk with your service team about order turnaround time, minimum runs, and which periods are considered to be the high season.

5. Choose the right partner

Look for a supplier who offers support on how to achieve the best results with the packaging process. A good partner will understand that this is an ongoing relationship, not a one-off transaction. It should provide contacts for technical support that brewers can communicate with regularly.

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