Four parties work to fulfill a simple container request from a key customer.

Improved can printing technology adds visual pop to tea harvesters qualified as Fair Trade Certified. Source: The Healthy Beverage Co.

When a key customer wants a point of differentiation, the astute beverage company provides it-and when the container choice plays to the company’s greenhouse-gas claims, so much the better.

Newtown, PA-based Healthy Beverage Co. (HBC) began carving a niche in the organic green tea segment in 2003 with glass containers. Whole Foods wanted an organic alternative to Arizona Iced Tea on its shelves and asked the firm to provide it in an aluminum can. The challenge, according to HBC Cofounder Eric Schnell, was reproducing the images of Third World farmers that graphically support the Fair Trade Certification position of HBC’s Steaz brand. Those graphics look great on a bottle’s shrink label, but duplicating the look on metal appeared daunting.

The solution involved a collaboration with Milwaukee-based Advertising Art Studio, HBC’s label designer, and Rexam Beverage Can Co. Prototype cans were produced at Rexam’s suburban Chicago technical center and run on a pilot-plant line, according to Rexam’s Greg Brooke. “The pilot line mimics the exact process that occurs in Winston-Salem, NC,” where the cans are produced, he adds.

“We’re the guinea pigs for the can printing process; without it, the container would look like everybody else’s,” says Schnell. Adds Operations Manager Carlo Valdez: “We saved a ton of money, because we were headed on the road to shrink sleeves.” Besides the added cost, the sleeves would mean even more post-consumption waste, an anathema to HBC because “we’re a green company,” Valdez says.

The containers also support the firm’s carbon-neutral claims because the freight and fuel consumed to distribute cans is “way less than a glass bottle,” he notes. The can rolled out nationally October 1 in Whole Foods stores.

Steaz in glass is copacked by Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA, but the brewery was unable to fill cans for HBC. The beverage firm developed a relationship with a Rexam copacking partner, Carolina Beer Co. in Mooresville, NC, to secure organic certification so it could handle the 16-oz. cans. The brewery specializes in offbeat containers, such as a screw-cap aluminum can from Rexam.  v

For more information:
Greg Brooke, Rexam Beverage Can Americas Inc.,