A plastic food can from Sonoco Products Co. could be on store shelves in just a matter of ‘months.'
The Hartsville, S.C.-based packaging giant is out with news that it has developed its own plastic alternative to the omnipresent metal food can.
Sonoco is unveiling the TruVue can to the market for the first time, but has been working on the project in earnest for about two years, company spokesman Brian Risinger said Dec. 7.
The can features a multi-layer plastic wall with an easy-open metal top and a metal bottom.
The TruVue can will compete against the Klear Can, which has been developed by Kortec Inc., a unit of Milacron LLC.
“I think from an aesthetics standpoint, we're in the same position in terms of presenting a see-through can,” Risinger said. “We're not working with them, but perhaps trying to accomplish similar things from a marketing standpoint.
“Probably about two years ago, in earnest, we really started focusing resources, technology, people against the development of it,” he said.
Use of a plastic can, which allows consumers to see the product, comes as retailers like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods continue to grow in popularity and push the idea of healthier eating.
“There's some primary and secondary research that says consumers generally are looking for what we call fresh and natural. We would add to that trust and transparency,” Risinger said.
A see-through can will help bigger food companies compete in that space, he said.
“When you walk down the center of the aisle right now, from the large big food companies, you just don't see a lot of that. So for us, we saw it as white space, if you will, to help our customers differentiate themselves in a pretty crowded space in the aisle,” he said.
Even if just a small fraction of the existing can food market transitions to plastic cans, the number would still be significant, Risinger said.
“With more than 47,000 products competing for attention in the average supermarket, standing out from the crowd is increasingly important,” Sonoco CEO Jack Sanders said in a statement. “This new solution creates multiple placement opportunities around the store.”
Sonoco sees products including as soups, sauces, fruits and vegetables as being candidates for using the new can.
Another advantage to the TruVue can is that companies can use the new packaging on existing canning and sterilization equipment.
“You can reinvent your brand without reinventing your manufacturing process. So it's both a marketing and an operational advantage that we're bringing to the marketplace,” Risinger said.
The TruVue can has undergone field testing with several clients that Risinger said he could not name. He indicated the container could be on store shelves on a regional basis with one customer by the end of the first quarter.
Sonoco is not saying which equipment manufacturer it has teamed up with to create the TruVue can, which is described by the company as having “a highly engineered, multilayer plastic substrate.” Risinger did not have particulars about the composition of the layers.
“Changing consumer demands are driving the need for innovation among premium brands promising freshness, authenticity and improved quality from simpler ingredients,” Sanders said in his statement. “We have developed a revolutionary alternative to the traditional metal can.”