Does the future of specialty tea and coffee lie within metal packaging?

Metal packaging may not be something many associate with the tea and coffee industry, however with its infinitely recyclable properties, it is something more companies are turning towards. This week, I visited the Eviosys R&D Centre in Wantage, UK, where the company opened the doors to its brand new testing lab, and detailed its latest innovations in the metal packaging world and what the format can offer customers.

We were given a tour of the facility, with its state-of-the-art materials and component testing laboratory, dedicated processing area and pilot manufacturing facility, which allows the company to simulate its customers’ factory conditions as well as test shelf life in temperature controlled stores. Eviosys was also proud to show off the manufacturing process for its Ecopeel innovation, which offers customers a lighter, easy-to-open packaging format. Eviosys also had on display its Orbit and Horizon technology, the former which allows for easier-to-open screw top jars, and the latter an impressively thin and unobtrusive resealable metal lid, allowing for a 100% metal packaging format and therefore improved recyclability.

The latter piqued my interest especially, in regards to tea and coffee applications. I have seen a fair amount of coffee, particularly instant coffee, sold in tins on the shelves, but with plastic lids. While this is better than a completely plastic tub, and certainly a step in the right direction, I can’t help but think they are so close to a truly sustainable option. The metal lid could be recycled alongside the tin, and made into something new again and again, with no degradation of quality. Meanwhile, plastic, while certain types are recyclable, the quality and application opportunities decrease the more it is done so. The visual appeal of an all metal can is also something that offers further benefit. Companies such as Eviosys can offer myriad ways to finish and decorate metal packaging, from contrasting gloss and matte areas, embossing, debossing, and holographic foils, as the company demonstrated yesterday. The image attached to this blog is one of the promotional examples Eviosys gave of its capabilities.

Specialty tea and coffee in particular, already utilises metal packaging to some extent, as it offers valuable resealable capabilities, as well as a quality feel. Tins have the fabulous quality of not just being infinitely recyclable, but infinitely reusable in their original format. I can’t be the only one who has an extensive collection of various tins alongside my hoard of jars, for storing biscuits, grains, nuts, lentils, anything from a packet that I have opened and want to keep stored fresh, tidy and stackable.

Chatting to Isabelle Le Graët, Eviosys marketing, communication and sustainability manager, yesterday, she touched on a report that Eviosys is due to publish soon about how consumers use their metal packaging and the role they play within the home. The report showed that 80% of consumers keep tins after purchase. This presents a phenomenal opportunity for brands to not only enter consumers’ homes, but to remain in them for potentially years to come, their packaging being got out of the cupboard and reused time and time again. Every time a consumer uses a brand’s tin, they are being reminded of the brand, the product, hopefully the enjoyment they got out of drinking the tea or coffee that the tin contained, and perhaps even the fond memory of the receipt of the tin if it was a gift. Highly decorative tins are much more likely to be kept and reused, and where the specialty tea and coffee industry is striving to offer quality and a memorable experience to consumers’ interaction with their products, a beautiful and repeatedly functional tin is an exciting as well as sustainable opportunity to expand this objective.

The concept has already been utilised in some categories for refillable solutions, where consumers buy a tin, and then going forward only need to buy bags or packets of their products to refill their tins, or some places even have opportunities for customers to bring their tin to be refilled. This is already beginning to have applications in the tea and coffee industry.

It will be interesting to see how metal packaging applications evolve within the tea and coffee segment, particularly for specialty, and how brands will utilise what is a great opportunity for memorable branding, consumer experiences, and unparalleled sustainability.

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