In the past 13 years, the aluminum can market has come a long way within the craft beer segment. Back in 2002, only one craft brewer packaged its beer in aluminum cans, according to the Aluminum Association. More recently, the demand for aluminum in general increased 2 percent in 2013 to 24.2 billion pounds, the Arlington, Va.-based association states in its October 2014 report “Aluminum Statistical Review for 2013.” Part of this growth is driven by the nearly 400 craft brewers who now package more than 1,300 different beers in cans in order to take advantage of the packaging material’s light and oxygen barriers and recyclability, it reports.
In order to take advantage of these benefits for their canning needs, craft brewers need to invest in can fillers and seamers that can meet their production needs, which tend to be significantly less than those of larger beverage-makers, points out Michael A. Mangone, managing member and director of sales and marketing at ShoreLine Packaging and Processing Machinery LLC, Havre de Grace, Md. “Many of these customers do not run [a fast] enough line speed to justify certain types of seaming equipment,” he explains. “For example, there are six-station seaming machines out there that cannot run properly below 300 cans a minute, and this is often too fast for many of the craft brewers.”