New “Trim” Can Coming Amid Stronger School Beverage Guidelines

Ball 250ml Can - courtesy of

Ball Corporation, a supplier for beverage cans and bottles, says they have manufactured a new smaller beverage 8oz can package.  This new size is slightly smaller than their 8.4oz (250ml) can (popularly used by Red Bull), and will still store up to 8oz (237ml) of liquid.  For production purposes, this new can will not need refitted or modified lines as it will use the same production line as the current 8.4 oz cans.

So why is this important?  Apparently, the ABA (American Beverage Association) passed new restrictions to limit the serving sizes of beverages in schools to 8 ounces.  Similar to how Canada has school guidelines on beverage serving sizes, American schools have now established guidelines for their elementary, middle, and high schools.  These organizations both have similar restrictions set up, allowing certain sizes for milk, juices and water and prohibiting the sale of other caloric beverages like soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.  With this new size, beverage manufacturers will be able to enter elementary schools with their juices in the new smaller-sized container.  Robert M. Miles, VP Sales for Ball’s metal beverage packaging division for the Americas, comments, “Ball’s 8-oz. trim can is a sustainable solution for customers looking to stand out in the marketplace and tap into incremental distribution channels.”

With Miles’ comment, does this mean that there will be more competition for selling healthy beverages in schools?  In Toronto Canada, this has already happened.  The Toronto School Board has voted to give an exclusive vendor contract to a company called HealthVendCanada (HVC).  HVC will sell water, milk and juices in Toronto schools that meets the new guidelines.  Selling points to the school board was HVC’s variety of 60 different beverages (compared to 12 of Coca-Cola and Pepsi), their milk offerings, and agreement to sell water for $1 (compared to $1.50).  With the increased focus on health standards, HVC was able to move quickly and meet these guidelines before Coca-Cola or Pepsi, gaining exclusivity in schools for at least the next two years.  Even if the two companies were able to meet the guidelines, their beverage portfolio may put them at a disadvantage compared to smaller suppliers given their limited offerings.

Another thing to consider: why did the guideline regulate a package size but not on the package itself (aluminum cans vs. plastic bottles)?  Though aluminum cans are faster chilling, they are not nearly as durable as plastic bottles nor resealable.  In order to get an answer, I e-mailed the ABA to find an answer.  Their response was the following:

“Our industry guidelines uses a variety of packaging types – including PET, aluminum and glass – all of which are good options for bringing beverages to market.   However, these guidelines do not address packaging type.  “

 What this means is that while they regulate the serving sizes, the containers they come in are not a concern.  Undoubtedly, because production lines do not have to refitted and material costs for can packaging may be lower, aluminum cans were the choice among manufacturers.

In the end, the main concern is the serving size of healthy beverage options, as well as limiting the unhealthy beverage alternatives in a school environment, which the ABA and Refreshments Canada has successfully achieved.  Ball Corporation, the maker of the trim can, stands to benefit greatly with their packaging innovation regardless of which manufacturer supplies the school with the refreshments.

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