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Ecotop - another step towards the ultimate goal.

At the end of June, Sainsbury's launched its Gio brand soft drink in Ecotop cans, and in 2 litre bottles, in all their stores nationwide, sufficiently confident of its success to ignore the usual selective launches for own brands. This confidence has been borne out by impressive sales figures.

Ecotop, the innovative two-button can end developed by British Steel Tinplate with its European partners Hoogoveens and Rasselstein, was adopted by the leading UK retailer to provide packaging for their new soft drink and has enjoyed huge sales in its first few weeks on the shelves.

Ecotop - Major Innovation

Commenting on sale of Gio, Martin Sargeant, director of grocery buying for Sainsbury's, said: "So far, the sale of Gio and its diet alternative have been very much above our expectations. Sales are around six times the amount we normally achieve for launches of own brand soft drinks. While we anticipated the higher sales of Gio because of the innovative packaging, quality and price, the volumes going through our stores have been high enough to establish the product as a major force in our business."

"These figures are due to a combination of all the product's benefits, which have proved attractive to our customers. In particular, the Ecotop end has provided us with the desired product differentiation in a highly competitive market - our customers like it!".

The positive results in favour of the Ecotop over the traditional ring-pull, first seen in consumer research prior to the launch (see table), have been confirmed in Sainsbury's sales and by independent on-the-street testing carried out by numerous regional newspapers that covered the launch from Edinburgh to Colchester and Burton to Norwich. Consumers nationwide have said the same things about Ecotop: "It's really easy to open", "I think it will catch on", "There's nothing sharp they (children) can cut themselves on", "It is better than what is available at the moment", "I would like to see all cans with ends like it".

John May, marketing manager of British Steel Tinplate, is delighted with the response. "We knew the consumer appeal of Ecotop and have always been confident of its success. We were very pleased when Sainsbury's recognised its potential and worked with us to get it on shelf and now we're delighted that our joint belief in Ecotop has paid off. It is particularly gratifying that sales have been strong right across the country, and have not been concentrated in one or two regions.

"We are confident that the success of Gio will lead to other manufacturers and retailers using the Ecotop end and are currently talking to other companies who are interested in adopting it for both soft and alcoholic drinks," he said.


Steel - Light Years Ahead

Steel has an enviable environmental profile amongst packaging materials. It is relatively energy efficient in production; in fact, if all aluminum can ends were replaced with Ecotop ends, the energy saved would be equivalent to that required to light every home in Britain for three weeks. British Steel Tinplate is determined to meet modern consumer, industry and legislative packaging requirements, and is therefore heavily investing in the future.

The Ecotop end is just one element of British Steel Tinplate's research and development programme into producing the 'ultimate can'. The weight of the average steel can has reduced by around 40 percent in the last decade or so. This dramatic progress is to continue with the company committed to a lightweighting programme which has already seen production of steel cans 20 percent lighter that those currently on supermarket shelves, and is on schedule to make a further 40 percent decrease by the middle of next year. These cans will have walls no thicker that a five pound note!

The advantages of lightweighting are obvious. Reducing the weight of steel cans which, because of their inherent properties of strength and rigidity, already have the thinnest walls of any metal available, will lead immediately to a reduction in the amount of raw materials and energy required in manufacture, the amount of material that needs recycling, and the fuel expended in transportation.
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Title Annotation:Ecotop cans
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Previous Article:Canning and bottling - revival or survival?
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