Canning has revolutionized the brewing industry in recent years. Whether breweries aim to be more sustainable, ensure freshness, or become more innovative, there are many reasons why craft brewers are switching from glass to aluminum cans.
The growth of canning has been significant. Beer cans comprised around 60% of independent craft packaged volume in 2020. Ten years ago, this figure was closer to 5%. Consumers and producers are showing their love for aluminum cans. So, what’s next? How can breweries optimize the appeal and cost-effectiveness of their canned products?
The answer lies in can sizes, which require optimal canning solutions.
Why Change Can Sizes?
Several breweries have made headlines following their transition to 16-ounce cans. Hi-Wire Brewing is one such example. In 2021, the brewery experimented with 16-ounce cans for its flagship Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA and staple Hi-Wire Lager. The results were significant. The brewery enjoyed a 15% increase in sales at retailers and grocery stores. There are several reasons for this, but primarily, their new cans stood out in a crowded market. In response, all Hi-Wire beers will be exclusively packaged in 16-ounce cans.
Other breweries are considering the benefits of changing the size of their beer cans due to supply chain issues. This strategy also benefits beer lovers, as breweries like Living the Dream Brewing offer more beer at a better price per ounce following the switch. Unlike Hi-Wire, Living the Dream is shifting its Arapahaze Double Hazy IPA 16-ounce four-packs to 12-ounce six-packs. This transition was largely in response to Ball Corp.’s order minimums announcement. So, this change was mainly due to the availability of aluminum cans.
Changing Can Sizes Can Ignite New Revenue Streams
When comparing these two breweries, it’s clear that the question of why largely depends on the brewery.
Supply chain issues concerning aluminum shortages are one reason breweries might switch can sizes — to get more product in less aluminum. However, the advantages of altering the size of canned products don’t end there. Cans of different sizes can draw renewed attention from beer drinkers, allowing breweries to remain relevant in a highly competitive space.
Although many breweries are making changes because of supply issues, others saw an opportunity long ago. For example, in 2017, Chicago-based brewery Revolution started exploring new outlets, such as gas stations and convenience stores. The brewery packaged its flagship IPA in a 19.2-ounce can, selling it individually for around $3. This gamble paid off as the brewery tapped into a new market of grab-and-go consumers. This move provided the company with sales and brand growth.
Considering the Operational Difficulties of Changing Can Sizes
The logistics behind any major change can be overwhelming, and changing the size of canned products is no different. This process takes planning, and to succeed, breweries must leverage the latest technology, including quality canning machines and other canning solutions. Changes should also be made for the right reasons. The examples above showcase how breweries can make changes when facing adversity — or just wanting to try something new. In this case, those changes required unique canning solutions.
The switch to smaller cans was simple for breweries like Living the Dream Brewing, but only because of the canning machines they invested in. The brewery said it could change its canning line in about an hour. The process can be incredibly efficient and stress-free, allowing brewers to focus on what they do best — brewing. The canning line takes care of the packaging component, and when changing the size of cans is required, an easy-to-use, automated system is essential.
Bottom line: The investment in the right canning machine can propel a brewery or even save it. When facing supply issues, breweries must be flexible, utilizing the aluminum cans available. That may mean relabeling unused cans, made possible with an automated can labeler. However, altering the size of canned products can be a strategy that pays off in more than one way.
Custom Configured Canning System
The moral of the story here is that within the brewing industry, one’s ability to adapt is imperative to survival. The craft beer industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and if brewers don’t adjust to the needs of their customers and the challenges they face, they can quickly sink.
As discussed above, the canning system implemented into a brewery’s production process can make or break the brand. Not all canning machines are created equal, which makes all the difference when needing to pivot. To ensure a seamless transition, brewers must invest in systems such as those offered by Twin Monkeys, designed to be custom configured.
Twin Monkeys’ systems also make changing heights or diameters simple. When the goal is to alter can sizes, brewers can reduce operator dependence and waste through the power of automation. All current Twin Monkeys machines can accommodate nearly any beverage can on the market, from tiny Red Bull-sized slim cans to the 12oz sleek cans popular with hard seltzers, to the standard 12oz or 16oz cans seen in most brewery offerings. Want to learn more? Reach out to Twin Monkeys to discover more about our canning machines and canning solutions when aiming to alter can sizes.