In the United States, 100 billion aluminum
beverage cans are consumed each year, half of the worldwide
total of 200 billion cans.
The U.S. market has been flat since peaking
in 1999, according to Subodh K. Das, director of the Center for
Aluminum Technology at the University of Kentucky, but during
the same period the world aluminum packaging market grew
rapidly, mainly in emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe.
China's aluminum beverage can market is seeing double-digit
growth, and in the next year is expected to exceed 10 billion
cans, he said.
To stimulate any sort of growth in the North
American market, can makers will have to put forth new
offerings. "Innovative products are needed to meet a variety of
market needs," Das said. "Great progress has been made, such as
the shaped aluminum bottle and the specialty can." Such new
designs have become the favorite of emerging products, such as
energy drinks, and even bottled water.
The U.S. consumer soft drink market declined
by 0.6 percent in 2006, according to Beverage Digest.
Excluding energy drinks, however, the market would be down some
1.5 percent, highlighting the emerging product's importance to
the future of specialty aluminum beverage cans.
Aluminum prices have definitely taken their
toll on aluminum beverage canning operations. HSBC Securities
Inc. analyst Lauren Torres noted that Bill Douglass, chief
financial officer of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE),
the largest Coke bottler, discussed the company's exposure to
aluminum prices. Douglass was reported to have said that as CCE
makes the transition to market pricing in 2007, it is looking
at double-digit percentage price increases if aluminum prices
remain at current levels, which could translate to a 9-percent
increase in the cost of goods sold this year in North
Douglass also was reported to have said that
CCE faced some potential pricing risk because the company
hasn't covered its aluminum needs for the fourth quarter of