Labelling Solutions

Labelling for cans: A new direction for craft beverages

Richard White from talks about the switch to cans for craft beer producers and how to make the most of the labelling opportunities this offers In terms of print production, there is no

real difference between bottle labels or can labels; both are custom printed to a high quality, available on a multitude of industry-ready materials and produced on rolls for either machine or manual applications. The key thing to note is that labels can only be applied to the central panel and not over the ‘lip’ at the top and bottom of the can. A number of the breweries we have

worked with have chosen to print their brands main messaging and colours on the cans so that they can be used across the entire product range but then differentiate their brews with multi-versioned label printing on a transparent polypropylene material. This way the brewer benefits from the lower costs per unit when printing cans and the flexibility of digital label printing. As labels are generally applied to cans via


eer in cans has generally been associated with big brands, rather than craft beer, but things are

changing. Craft brewers in the UK are following their US colleagues and adopting the can as the packaging of choice. There are several reasons for this change not least the increasing focus on sustainability. Consumers are seeking products that have less of an effect on the environment and aluminium cans can be recycled forever. Amazingly, it only takes 60 days for a can to be remanufactured and back on the shelf! From a producer’s perspective, cans are

lighter than bottles and more efficient to pack, so use less space and are cheaper to transport, cutting down on trucks and CO2 emissions. Cans also cost less to produce. Craft producers may also want to consider the environmental impact of their secondary packaging, by using recyclable cartons, for example. Some brewers will also tell you that cans

are better for the beer. There is less light pollution as the aluminium blocks this out, as well as being an effective barrier against oxygen which extends product freshness. The key though is the change in consumer mindset, not only from an environmental perspective but from a taste one. Brewers are driving the message that taste and quality is not reduced by putting their beer in a can. Once this perceived barrier is overcome,

there will probably be no looking back. Innovation in can design offers new

14 December/ January 2020

opportunities and USPs for craft brewers - new package designs, use of new coatings and finishes such as UV inks, coloured ends and tabs, peel and reveal labels, removable lids and even re-sealable cans. So, there are lots of things on the horizon to give the brewer individuality. For the consumer, there is also the

practicality aspect, beer in cans is easier to carry and can often go places where beer in bottles can’t. Think festivals or hiking. Cans are easier to take to the beach or on outdoor picnics. In the past one barrier to canning for

craft brewers was the cost. A canning line is more expensive and takes up significantly more floor space than many bottle-filling machines. However, beer brands are now able to choose from a range of canning options which better suit their needs and budgets. The recent introduction of lower volume contract lines in the UK, as well as mobile lines for hire which are cost effective and flexible has contributed to the growth in the use of cans.

One business model that has made cans accessible to smaller craft brewers, for one- off or smaller brew batches, is the rise of the mobile canner. This is ideal for the craft brewer as the canning is done on their own site, production facility or brewery, allowing them to keep control and feel confident about the handling of the beer. We’ve worked with several canning outfits who have the experience, and the passion, to do a great job.

a wet-fill process, application conditions are cold and wet. Brand owners should therefore be looking for a label material that functions throughout the filling and application process as well as looking great at the point of sale. At we recommend polypropylene. Polypropylene is a waterproof, polymeric

material that is synonymous with the beverage industry and is available as a white, silver or transparent film. White PP film can be used for full colour, high-impact print and graphics. Both the silver and transparent materials can be used to create a “no label” look and to achieve a vibrant print, the white opaque ink can be used as an undercoat. This is an exciting time for craft beer

brewers and there is much scope to continue their trademark for innovative label design on cans, such as we have seen on bottles. As you can see from the Deviant and Dandy labels picyured above. It will also be interesting to see what the craft cider producers make of the can option, I suspect we will see a rise in can usage here too. Consumers will continue to be engaged

by new taste experiences, natural ingredients, strong environmental credentials and brands with an eye-catching label and a story to tell. It is up to the can maker to continue to work towards supporting the drinking experience, highlighting the enhancements the can provides for both the craft beer and other craft drink sectors.

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