CanLab is the go-to partner for all small and medium-sized companies in need of beverage cans. Their typical customers are (craft) breweries, kombucha makers, wineries but also producers of flavored alcoholic beverages, carbonated soft drinks, functional drinks, etc.
The company offers a wide range of different can sizes: from 150 ml. up to 500 ml. They have various solutions to personalize cans: like labelling, sleeving and soon CanLab can even digitally print of aluminum cans. CanLab also offers secondary packaging like can clips and carton boxes.
For companies that want to launch their products in cans but do not have the possibility to fill, CanLab also has a solution. Their daughter company, CanLab Mobile Canning, offers solutions to fill onsite. So, no need to invest in a canning line: CanLab MC has already done that.
With a mobile can filling line CanLab MC travels to the customer and fills the cans while making sure everything is within the right parameters and in the best qualitative way possible.
In case distance is a challenge they have a wide network of friendly fillers who we can introduce.
CanLab’s headquarter is based in Deventer, The Netherlands and they are active in Scandinavia, The Benelux, France and The Czech Republic.
Interview with Arjen van Zurk, Co-Owner & CCO of CanLab.
Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
Arjen van Zurk:
From 250 ml. up to 500 ml.
SLIM, SLEEK™ and STANDARD cans
Unprinted or personalized with a label, sleeve or printed
From 1 pallet up to full truck loads
Lower and full pack heights
Soon: ordering via a webshop
Just-in-Time deliveries to the customer
Stock control and management for our customers
Mobile filling services
Suitable for the SLEEK™ and STANDARD can sizes
High quality filling lines
Capable of doing DO measurements before, during and after filling
Friendly network of mobile fillers in Europe
E.E: What’s the news about new products?
A.v.Z: For many of our customers personalization is key. This is the way to stand out from the crowd and to become visible for consumers.
CanLab offers various ways to stand out from the crowd. For instance, with digital printed sleeves the brand owner gets the effect they are searching for. To emphasize on the recyclability credentials of a sleeved can we can add a vertical perforation in the sleeve to simply tear off the sleeve and put it in the right bin after usage.
What makes us unique is that we presleeve cans, so the customer gets the required amount of presleeved cans shortly before filling. We can print a batch code on the bottom of the can and for the German market we can even offer sleeves with the required DPG logo on it.
From the end of Q1 2023 onwards CanLab will be able to offer digitally printed cans. With this technique CanLab is able to print digitally and directly on the surface of the can turning the can into mono-material packaging. This is a great addition to our current portfolio and makes us ready for the future.
E.E: What are the ranges of products?
A.v.Z: Our current range of beverage cans consists out of the following can sizes:
SLIM cans: 150 ml. and 250 ml.
STANDARD cans: 330 ml., 440 ml. and 500 ml.
SLEEK™ cans: 250 ml. and 330 ml.
In general, we have multiple colors on stock like black, white, gold and of course silver (unprinted). In case a customer is searching for a specific size and / or color CanLab is always willing to find and offer a suitable solution.
We have the possibility to label all of the above can sizes and we are able to sleeve the STANDARD and SLEEK™ ranges. Soon we will add the possibility of sleeving SLIM cans to our offer.
With our mobile can filling lines we are able to fill and process STANDARD and SLEEK™ cans. Currently we are able to fill beer or beer-like products but we are investigating possibilities to fill different kind of beverages as well.
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
A.v.Z: As we operate in different European countries we see different stages in the market. Let me give a few examples:
In Scandinavia sustainability is extremely important for both beverage producer as for the consumer. Thanks to the great sustainability credentials of the can, the beverage can as such is widely accepted.
Not only for beer, but in Scandinavia there is a wide range of different beverages being packed in cans like water, cider and sodas. We see Scandinavia as a market in a maturity stage.
Markets in the growing stage are countries like The Netherlands, Belgium and France. We see that (craft) beer brewers are embracing the excellent credentials of the beverage can making it the suitable packaging for their products. This trend also spins off to other beverage producers like producers of wine, kombucha, functional drinks, et cetera.
Besides markets in the growth or maturity stage we also see markets in the introduction stage. Cans are already available on those markets but the growth as we seen in Scandinavia for instance is not there yet.
Markets in the introduction stage are eastern European countries. However, these markets are growing into a more growing stage and therefore of sincere interest to CanLab.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
A.v.Z: The market for beverage cans in Europe has seen year-on-year growth. According to the latest insights the European metal cans market was valued at USD 17,78 billion in 2021 and is expected to register a CAGR of 2,46% from 2022 to 2027* (*https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/europe-metal-cans-market).
E.E: So, what are the drivers for this continued growth? We see multiple:
Beverage cans are valued for their portability and convenience. Beverage cans are lightweight, chill the beverage faster and are unbreakable. This makes the beverage can suitable for many occasions and that is something more and more consumers embrace.
For the beverage producers the beverage can is the perfect packaging. The beverage can offer a powerful barrier against oxygen and light. These are the 2 enemies of (craft) beer breweries and many other beverages because oxygen and light can have a negative effect on freshness and flavor.
Beverage cans are completely recyclable and can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality. Recycling aluminum uses approx. 95% less energy than creating aluminum from raw materials.
New beverages launch
Traditionally beverage cans are being primarily used to pack beer, energy drinks and CSDs (carbonated soft drinks). The latest trends we see is that more and more other beverages are being packed in cans.
CanLab has customers in other beverage segments like wine, kombucha, functional drinks, hard seltzer, et cetera. This means that the can is not only the perfect packaging for beer or energy drinks, but for a lot of different beverages as well.
E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?
A.v.Z: What we see as innovation in our markets is primarily the launch of new type of products in cans. This clearly proves the beverage can is not only the perfect package for (craft) beer, but also for kombucha, wine, hard seltzer, functional drinks and beautiful cocktails.
Besides new product launches we also see further developments in the personalization of cans. Besides great print options of the can body there are now also great opportunities to print the lid of the cans.
Last but certainly not least I would like to mention the widget technology. This technique, created by a nitrogen-charged widget in the can, gives a beautiful layer of foam ideally for beer and cold coffee drinks
E.E: What estimations do you have for the rest of 2022?
A.v.Z: The perception of the beverage cans is changing. Where in the past the can was primarily seen in the beer, CSD and energy drink segment, the can is now more and more accepted for a wide variety of beverages.
Also, in the on-trade beverage cans are more and more visible and becoming accepted. We have even seen a Michelin restaurant serving beer directly from a can, how cool is that!
Our expectation is that the demand for cans will continue to grow although we are facing some tough economic challenges ahead. Prices across all sectors and industries are rising and our customers are being confronted with many price increases for the different products they buy. Although Canlab is also affected by this, we do whatever it takes to continue offering a great product and service against the best possible price without jeopardizing our core values.
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