Cartons for Cans vs. HDPE Carriers

You are a small to midsize beverage maker and have great beer, cider, seltzer, or wine in cans. What’s next? Packaging! Packaging those delightful libations in beautiful cans is what’s next. Often, researching and learning about packaging can be frustrating. We are here to help! Two of the most common/desirable packaging options available for canned products are 1) the rigid HDPE snap-on can carriers and 2) a hand-loaded box or carton. While cartons are our specialty, we recognize that snap-on carriers are also a great option! We want to offer information to help with this critical decision, which, if we are honest, is most definitely swayed towards using a box.

We are excited to announce our new Cartons for Cans custom printed packaging program for small orders of 6 pack and 12 pack hand-loaded boxes. A quick-load carton with IMPACT! This program takes what used to be an expensive option and turns it into an affordable one! If you are looking for an easy way to get started in quantities of 2,000 to 20,000 cartons, consider the Cartons for Cans program. Contact us on our website or reach out to your salesperson for more information.  

Our primary purpose at Sonderen is to partner with our customers to propel their growth and support their success with our packaging. One of our favorite long-time customers has utilized our cartons for their cans from early on in their journey to become a premier brewery with award-winning beers. Kettlehouse® Brewing Co. are pioneers in the industry. In 2006, they became the first modern brewery in Montana to package beer in cans. From early on, they chose cartons for their cans. There are several reasons why a carton was the right choice for them. They attribute their success to their award-winning beers and the packaging that draws the consumer to their brand. “In a crowded cooler or shelf space, visually connecting customers to our brand is extremely important. Not only does the folding carton help our brand stand out, but it gives customers who are already familiar with our brand, a much easier time finding our products. We want KettleHouse® drinkers to have a great experience with our beer from the moment they search for it; having the billboard space of a folding carton makes it easy to find!” says Tiffany, the Kettlehouse® Marketing Manager.  

The type of packaging we are promoting boasts up to 388 sq inches of billboard space to express a company’s individuality and style. Differentiating yourself and branding is what will make or break a new player in this incredibly competitive beverage space. Ask yourself, “how can you make an impression?” An article by Bedrock Analytics titled “5 Questions CPG (Consumer Product Goods) Retailers Ask When Deciding on Shelf Space” might be helpful to review when considering packaging options and marketing strategy. Tiffany goes on to further contrast the benefit of a folding carton in the retail space vs. the snap-on can carrier, “Folding cartons are the ideal carrier for floor stacks and displays, giving us prominent visibility. Merchandisers have fun creating different patterns and shapes with our boxes for holidays and game days. Our cartons don’t always need to be divided up by cardboard trays if that doesn’t work visually with the space.”

Snap-on plastic HDPE beverage carriers generally are offered at a price point in the $.20-$.30 range, which makes this option most attractive to folks just starting out in the industry. Carriers are easy to apply manually or with an automated solution. The carriers also nest for easy storage and shipping. If you have invested in creative can graphics or labels, this option is great to showcase that art. (As long as the cans are all facing the right way so the consumer can read them). The snap-on carriers boast that they are recyclable (100% post-consumer recycled milk jugs and are 100% recyclable), yet in our research, it seems that many recycling centers do not recycle them, or you have to take them to a particular receptacle that then goes back to the manufacturer. In contrast, paperboard is widely recycled throughout the United States. It can also be burned for fuel in a campfire. 

Let’s talk about the “growing popularity” of sustainability for a moment. Recent statistics from a New York Sterns study in 2020 revealed that sustainably marketed products grew 7.1 times faster than products not marketed as sustainable. Also, 60% of consumers said they would pay more for sustainable packaging. Barak Bright with Clearwater Paper gives marketing advice to companies whose consumers seek out brands that are environmentally conscientious, “sustainable and environmental claims don’t exist unless they are on the front of the packaging. If the consumer can’t see a claim in 4 seconds or less while scanning the shelf, there is little benefit to making the claims on the package at all.” Two of the most common materials recycled in the United States are aluminum cans and paperboard packaging. A double WIN! “Our customers have told us they appreciate the ease of grabbing a box of KettleHouse® beers. They like that the cardboard box provides a place to put their empty cans when they’re out on a raft or out recreating. We have a lot of folks who road trip distances to pick up Cold Smoke in Montana. Based on the photos we are tagged in on social media, the boxes pack nicely into car trunks,” states Tiffany, the Kettlehouse® Marketing Manager.

If you want to get the best of both worlds, use the snap-on carrier for everyday use, but design a folding carton for a variety pack. Kettlehouse® has developed their Cooler Times Adventure Packs (#coolertimes). Two SKU’s that each include four varieties, with one geared for Summer and one for Winter. What a great way for consumers to sample the product line! With the Cartons for Cans short-run program, we can get you cartons quickly, with minimal start-up and shipping costs. Plus, we genuinely care about you and your business. We can grow with you! Start with a hand-loaded carton, and we will help you move into a machine-loaded carton when you become wildly successful