How flexible packaging has revolutionised the can

A quick mental experiment: You want to conserve a product with packaging. Pears, for example. Which packaging comes to mind?

Chances are good that you will remember the good old tin can. It is a staple in the inventory not only of homes but also of the food service industry.

For good reasons! It has been used to preserve food of all kinds, sizes, and shapes since Napoleon's epoch. The concept behind canning is to heat and thus preserve foods in sealed, airtight containers. This protects the product against foreign matter, germs, and air. Ingenious, but ...

Cans are not only complicated to open. They are bulky, heavy, and a logistics challenge for many businesses. At Wipf AG, we are aware of these problems and have found the alternative.

Time to think outside the box

For a company, being innovative means to question habitual solutions. If innovation is a corporate value, it means evolving good ideas and perhaps even inventing something that is totally new.

Our customer face challenges on a daily basis. To be successful, they have to be more and more efficient. More than ever, competitors are on the ball.

Packaging solutions like cans give producers the possibility to package their products and extend their shelf lives. Clever packaging solutions help boost operational efficiency and reduce costs without compromising the integrity of the product.

Flexible films are clever: They occupy much less space that the "good old" can. The result: lower logistics costs. Additionally, films weigh much less, which means lower shipping costs.

A film solution eliminates the need to ship prefabricated cans around the world. Films can be preproduced and sent directly to filling companies by us. There, they merely need to be integrated in the filling line feed. That saves space.

Another asset: Film packaging requires considerably less material. That makes disposal as easy as packaging paper.

Henry Ford, the pioneering automaker, has been quoted as saying: "Had I asked people what they wanted, they would have said: faster horses."

This is an approach that the developers of Wipf AG adopted as well. Instead of "simply" improving the can, we thought outside the box.

The convenience aspect

Smaller, more flexible, more elegant and easier to handle: that was the goal. Across the entire value chain from the product to the packaging.

"The market wants packaging that is convenient and easy to open," says Mario Zöbeli. development manager at Wipf AG.

And Wipf implements what the market wants, provided it is compatible with the corporate values.

Cans are able to preserve products for a long time. We have developed packaging that does that too. Then again: with much less material and less weight. That's how Wipf addresses the convenience factor.

New possibilities, new avenues

Requirements imposed on packaging have changed since Napoleon's era. Of course, products still have to be protected by the packaging. The goal is: the longest possible shelf life. But new requirements have been defined, such as:

  • The packaging must be as "green" as possible.
  • It must address the retailer's needs.
  • It must be convenient.
  • It must be space-saving.

And since we have meanwhile moved from 1810 to 2018, the packaging industry has introduced a number of new options.

A top-tier development team, know-how in material sciences, and packaging technologies are some of the reasons why we now have solutions that were unthinkable 20 years ago.

Today, we laminate high-tech materials in such a way that deep-drawing does not tear the film in the shaping process. Technological progress revolutionised not only electronics but also the tin can.

WICOFLEXCAN® - the flexible aluminium can

Brought to a point, the name of the revolution is WICOFLEXCAN®. Objectively speaking, WICOFLEXCAN® is the flexible film alternative to the venerable can.

Just like the can, this packaging solution offers the longest possible shelf life for pre-cooked foods. Additionally, it minimises the volume of the packaging.

Here's how it works

We don't want to get too technical here. But you need some hints to understand what's it's all about.

In principle, WICOFLEXCAN® is a laminate, but with an aluminium layer for preserving products. So basically, it is a flexible aluminium can.

The bottom film is deep-drawn into shape for products of all kinds. Subsequently, the lid is sealed on and encloses the product like a second skin.

Of course, the packaging can be retorted or pasteurised after filling. It can be used efficiently and compactly for large and heavy products such as fruit, potatoes, and fish, for instance for wholesalers, while saving considerable amounts of space.

This technology is making tin cans obsolete. Smaller quantities can be packaged in stand-up pouches of the kind used for retail-format olive or sauce packaging. With WICOFLEXCAN®, it also works for larger and heavier formats of up to five kilogrammes. This makes the packaging simpler, more convenient, and "greener".

What does "green" mean, anyway? Isn't the can more environmentally friendly?

Current ecobalance analyses confirm that flexible packaging has a modest environmental impact in the lifecycle context and achieves very good comparative scores. Because the packaged products occupy less space, shipping costs can be significantly reduced. Less weight, paired with logistics and warehousing advantages, saves energy and reduces emissions.

Top-tier flexible packaging solutions

Wipf AG develops and produces high-barrier packaging films and pouches for the food, pharma, and non-food industries. The company employs 200 persons and is one of Europe's leading packaging manufacturers. In 2014, the venerable company celebrated its 100th anniversary.


Would you like to learn more about our capabilities?

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours, Wipf AG


T +41 44 947 22 11 | info@wipf.ch


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