Despite being around for over half a century, aluminium beverage can (ABC) is yet to find favor in the second most populous country on the globe. Not known to be a great packaged beverage consuming country, Indians until a few years back, continue to consume lesser units per head a year – compared to what an average North American consumes in a day!
However, with its economy moving at a faster rate over the last decade compared to the rest of the developing world, could we expect this pattern to change in the coming years? It had always been a cliché statement from market analysts that the country with one of the world’s lowest per capita packaged beverage consumer intensity has enough potentialities to become the next big market for two and three piece aluminium beverage cans. May be, time has arrived for the global ABC industry to take a fresh and serious look at India.
Presently, beverages packed in cans cover only around 5% of the country’s 11billion dollar packaged beverage industry. In recent years the overall packaged beverage industry in India has been growing at 5-6% year-on-year basis. This covers all forms of packaging including glass, metal, foil, multi layer cartons etc. However, with spurt in food processing industry, the 3-pc 110 ml beverage can market which serves mainly the fruit juice and pulp packaging sectors, has been found to be growing at an over 10% year-on-year rate. The Indian packaging industry is still at a developing stage. The two piece DIW can industry growth is also gaining strength with the first 1 billion CPY plant coming into production.
Unlike that in the developed world, there is still no cut throat competition in India as yet for market share among various packaging material . Consumerism is growing and more and more Indians in both the rural and urban regions of India have higher disposable income now than ever before. It to be seen if the choice of convenience or the increasing affluence of India’s bulging middle class would ultimately drive the growth of ABC industry in the country.
World over, the recycling of used beverage cans (UBC) along with automobile scrap has been the driving force in the growth of secondary aluminium sector. Despite the Indian primary aluminium industry being nearly 75 years old, the secondary and recycling industry is yet to attain the scale and standards that it has achieved in rest of the world. An industry with very high employment potential and the one that helps aluminium gain its ‘green’ label is waiting to take off in India. Would growth in ABC use and resultant higher availability of UBC ultimately help this crucial segment of the aluminium industry eco system to take off in India?
The Indian primary aluminium industry has been struggling since many decades to improve the width and dept of aluminium application in the country. But precious little has been till recently to develop a country specific strategy for promoting ABC industry in the country. Non availability of indigenously produced can stock had prevented ABC production becoming cost effective. With Can stock now being produced indigenously in adequate quantities, it is hoped that at least one of the major primary aluminium producer in the country would adopt aggressive policies for promoting the two piece ABC industry in the country.
All through the years, the Indian Aluminium industry has shied away from investing in technology developed, more so in the downstream sector. Can manufacturing is no exception in it. The problem is going to be obtaining economically viable sub- billion UPY can making technologies as India might require in short and medium term while the world keeps creating technologies of economy of scale position in multi billion UPY segments.
There are many questions still remain to be addressed to develop a clear and certain road map for the growth of ABC industry in India. But as some of the leading market experts of the industry have been predicting of late, India could be the next big thing to happen to global ABC business.
By: Mr. B S Pani, ‘Industrial Consultant” -<firstname.lastname@example.org>
The author is a metallurgist, an industry veteran of 40+ years and an independent Industrial Consultant operating from Bhubaneswar :India.