Metal Packaging Breaks into the World of Snacking

By Laetitia Durafour, Marketing Director at Crown Food Europe

Around the world, the way consumers think about and eat food is changing. As their lives get busier and more complex, consumers are favoring snacking over the traditional plan of three square meals per day. This shift is evident in the data. A recent report from Euromonitor values the global snacking market at $540 billion.  In the U.S., 47 percent of consumers eat three or more snacks per day, with consumption in the early morning time period increasing from 7 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2019.

As snacks have begun to stand in for formal meals, consumers are seeking more variety and sophistication from brand owners, allowing them to choose options that fit their lifestyles, values, time limitations and taste preferences. These demands have also led snack food manufacturers to examine new packaging formats that convey a premium brand image to consumers and create new consumption occasions while also delivering on convenience and sustainability.

Many elements of a package can push it towards the premium end of the spectrum. Metal, for example, conveys an innate sense of luxury and value, as it is a solid and robust material that implies the contents are distinctive and worth protecting. Functionality can also enhance the premium feel of a product, with consumers often happy to pay for conveniences such as resealability. Portability is another convenience that ranks highly with consumers in terms of perceived value.

An increasing number of consumers are also seeking to align themselves with brands that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, both in how they manufacture and package their products. For example, a recent study found that nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. Over 70 percent of respondents saying the issue is very/extremely important to them would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.  Metal packaging excels in this area as its raw materials, aluminum and steel, are abundant. In addition, no other packaging substrate has a more firmly established recycling structure. Metal packaging also helps power the circular economy since it can be recycled infinitely in a material-to-material loop.

In Europe, there are many examples of metal packaging at the premium end of the snacking market. When U.K.-based custom snack company Made for Drink set out to provide the ultimate food and beverage combination at a London food festival, metal packaging became the thread that tied its Mangalitza Salami Chips to its intended partner, Sharp’s Offshore Pilsner. The slices of traditional Hungarian salami are gently roasted until crisp and packaged in a sustainable metal bowl. The container features a peelable end for an easy-to-open experience and includes a separate metal lid for resealability.

From day one in business, Bier Nuts had a vision of producing nuts that would be packed in containers that were 100 percent recyclable. As the first snack brand to adopt a Plasticonscious policy for its packaging in the U.K., metal provided the ideal solution. The flavors of the crunchy, coated peanuts – Classic, Masala Curry and Jalapeño – have suggested beer pairings for maximum enjoyment. The 45-gram cans have an easy-open end to enhance convenience and are decorated with graphics that correspond to the country that the flavor originated from.

Any discussion about snacks would not be complete without exploring the move towards healthier options. In the U.S., across demographics, consumers are seeking snacks that are fresh, provide benefits beyond basic nutrition and provide a serving of fruit or vegetables and other characteristics.  This trend crosses the pond to the U.K., where Satisfied Snacks launched its Salad (as) Crisps concept in metal packaging. Fresh ingredients are cut and mixed together, air dried and broken into crisps, making it easy for consumers to meet their “five-a-day” goal in a package that is good for the environment and keeps the snacks fresh and tasty.

While, currently, metal packaging is less common in the snack category in the U.S., the format has a lot to offer manufacturers in a variety of categories. As the segment continues to thrive, brand owners will be seeking packaging solutions that can give them a competitive advantage. With inherent characteristics that lend a premium look and feel, enhance convenience and support sustainability, metal packaging is a format worth considering.

About Crown Holdings, Inc.

Crown Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is a leading global supplier of rigid packaging products to consumer marketing companies, as well as transit and protective packaging products, equipment and services to a broad range of end markets. World headquarters are located in Yardley, Penn. For more information, visit www.crowncork.com.

1 Euromonitor, Premiumisation in Snacks: A Framework for Growth (July 2019)

2 IRI, How America Eats: The State of the Snacking Industry (April 9, 2019)

3 IBM Institute for Business Value in association with the National Retail Federation, Meet the 2020 Consumers Driving Change: Why Brands Must Deliver on Omnipresence, Agility and Sustainability (2020)

4 IRI, How America Eats: The State of the Snacking Industry (April 9, 2019)