Extremely tight, safe and easy to open: the Weidenhammer Packaging Group (WPG) has introduced a new Peel-off Top at the interpack 2011. Thanks to its outstanding gas impermeability, the new closure system for composite cans is suitable for powdered milk and other highly sensitive products. For Europe’s leading composite can manufacturer, the innovation marks an entry into market segments that were previously dominated by metal cans. Compared to competing products, the Weidenhammer packaging solution scores points for convenience, resealability and a wider range of design options. It also performs significantly better when it comes to sustainability and lower prices.
In the past five decades, Weidenhammer composite cans have captured numerous product segments in the food market and have become established in many segments as a standard form of packaging. From the perspective of food retailers and consumers, the benefits of composite cans include outstanding convenience along with optimal product protection and freshness. Thanks to these advantages, this durable, secure and convenient packaging has surpassed conventional tinplate cans in several market segments. However, this was mainly the case for instant drinks, soups and sauces with barrier requirements in the hygroscopic range. In the segment for highly sensitive foods, including powdered milk, nuts and coffee products, the composite can soon reached its limits because it did not provide sufficient oxygen impermeability.
New closure with proven handling
With the new Peel-off Top, WPG is introducing a secure, oxygen tight packaging solution for highly sensitive food products. The new closure is similar in appearance and handling to the standard closures on metal cans – and in terms of barrier properties, it is on par with tinplate. Instead of being joined to the composite can body, the new aluminium membrane is attached to a special metal ring that is joined to the can body. This ensures an extremely tight closure and gives the composite can essentially the same barrier properties as a metal can.
The Weidenhammer Peel-off Top solution comes in two versions with ring pull or flat tab membrane. Both of these designs reliably protect oxygensensitive package contents. Other benefits include outstanding convenience. Consumers can open and close the package with ease. According to Rolf Regelmann, executive in charge of WPG sales, this is a key advantage: "Our Peel-off Top solution combines convenience with outstanding oxygen impermeability. Consumers are already familiar with the opening mechanism, so there’s no need to learn how to open the package". An additional resealable plastic overcap on the Peel-off Top protects the product contents after the initial opening.
Environmental awareness and lower costs
Weidenhammer Peel-off Tops are suitable for both composite and metal cans. "Combining the composite can with a Peel-off Top offers significantly more benefits in terms of environmental protection and lower costs", Regelmann explains. Lightweight and completely recyclable, the composite can has a much smaller carbon footprint across the entire lifecycle than a conventional tinplate can.
The cost factor is another positive aspect of composite cans. Unlike the commodity prices for steel, which are subject to dramatic fluctuations and have increased significantly over the past few years, the material costs for composite cans are proportionately much lower. Added to this are the marketing benefits that come with custom design options. Composite cans with Peel-off Tops offer much more creative flexibility when it comes to labelling and are clearly differentiated from competing products at the point-of-sale.
Focus on new markets
It took WPG engineers nearly three years to develop the new Peel-off Top. The family-owned enterprise based in Hockenheim, Germany invested around EUR 6 million in research and development, acquisition of new machinery, and in the expansion and modernisation of WPG production sites. This investment has clearly paid off: "The new Peel-off Top significantly increases the potential for composite cans", says Regelmann. "We expect our solution to become firmly established in the market within the next few years and gradually replace the metal can". The specialist packaging company is primarily focusing on the market for powdered milk products. This segment places extremely high demands on packaging when it comes to impermeability, hygiene and safety – standards that are perfectly met by composite cans with Peel-off Tops.
WPG produces the new Peel-off Tops at its plant in Inofita, Greece. The composite cans to go with the tops are manufactured in standard 99 and 126.7 mm diameters at production facilities in Lübeck and Hockenheim, Germany. In France, composite cans designed for Peel-off Tops are produced in 73 mm diameter. A new assembly line for 99 mm cans is scheduled to open in Greece in autumn 2011. Other new production lines will follow at various WPG production sites in Europe. "We are already holding preliminary talks with potential customers and the outlook so far is very promising", says Regelmann. Annual production volume for Weidenhammer composite cans with Peel-off Tops is expected to reach into the tens of millions in the future.