For Head Brewers who are drowning in business advice about how to enhance brewery operations, the canning vs. bottling debate is probably… head-scratching (excuse the pun). Countless breweries across the country are turning to canning because of the shelf appeal of well-designed cans, but a brewery manager still has to ensure that canning makes business sense. We take a look at the canning vs. bottling difference and five reasons breweries should embrace canning.
Canning vs. Bottling: What’s the Difference?
There are two main areas where canning vs. bottling makes a real difference to a brewery’s operations: material costs and canning speed.
Cans cost about the same as bottles nowadays. In the early days of aluminum cans (in the 60s and 70s after Coors introduced the novel container in 1959), however, can prices were much higher than bottles simply because canning was a newer technology. Thankfully by now, however, prices have come down considerably.
The only meaningful cost difference between cans and bottles is reflected in minimum order values. Typically, the minimum order for cans is much higher than for bottles, and breweries could be asked to order a literal truckload of cans (approximately 24-36 pallets, depending on the truck size) as standard. For large operations, this is unlikely to pose a problem. However, this large order requirement could be prohibitive for smaller craft breweries.
Most business advice on successful brewing relates much more to operational efficiency than the brewing process itself. And filling speed is a vital part of that. When it comes to filling, canning is a much faster process than bottling. Cans have a much wider opening than bottles which impacts the speed at which liquid can be pushed into the container.
Why Head Brewers Should Add or Enhance a Canning Line
Canning has some distinct advantages over bottling. For brewers, this means that adding or improving an existing canning line could have numerous benefits. Here are just a few of the reasons why cans are topping bottles in popularity:
1. Operational Efficiency
Whether empty or full, cans are easier to store than bottles. This is good for breweries that have limited space. Transport is also easier with cans, which are less likely to break if handled roughly and also weigh less, reducing transport costs in some cases (cans weigh on average two pounds less per six-pack than glass bottles). And while canning machines may be more expensive to install than bottling equipment, they take less human input to operate, proving more efficient in the long run.
2. Consumer and Employee Safety
Cans take the lead on safety compared to bottles because they do not smash.
The average consumer will take a container on quite the journey before the beer gets drunk. Whether hiking up a mountain and enjoying a cold one at the top or mindlessly shoving the beer in the only available space at the back of the fridge, beer containers have a lot to go through. The lower the risk of breaking between being bought and drunk, the better.
The same goes for employee safety. From filling to shipment, employees handle beer containers extensively. In a fast-paced environment like a brewery, employees must work with the safest materials possible to minimize injury.
3. Product Quality
Cans are not translucent like bottles, so they protect the beer from UV light that can initiate and accelerate the skunking process. This means that cans typically facilitate a longer shelf life than bottles, which is great not only for retailers who need to consider product life when ordering, but also for consumers who may not want to drink their beers straight away.
4. Environmental Concerns
This one is plain and simple: cans are way better for the environment than bottles, as they are both more widely and more easily recycled than bottles (it takes 90% less energy to recycle a can than it does a glass bottle). This is a serious concern for consumers and should be for breweries, too.
The second shelf from the top tends to be the best spot to have beers placed on, but that shelf accounts for one of four or five on average. As a result, breweries need to think carefully about how they design their containers to get maximum visibility. Cans offer a distinct advantage over bottles in this respect because the designable surface area on a can is generally larger than that on bottles.
Where to Start with Canning Machines
If you have been convinced to make the switch to cans, getting help from canning machine experts is the first step to implementing a smooth and efficient process at your brewery. Get in touch with a representative at Twin Monkeys today to get started.