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Aluminum and the Food Packaging Industry

The food and beverage industry uses aluminum for packaging a variety of products. Aluminum is versatile, non-toxic and helps protect and preserve the freshness of food products. Aluminum food packaging is also easily recyclable, so you can reduce costs and environmental impact.

Learn More About Aluminum Consulting for the Packaging Industry

Aluminum Applications in Packaging — Foil and Can Sheet

Aluminum foil is a very thin sheet of aluminum alloy. Commercial food producers use aluminum foil for its light-blocking abilities, as direct sunlight can have a negative effect on the look and taste of many foods. For example, groceries wrapped in aluminum foil can see a dramatic boost in their shelf life.

Aluminum can sheet is ideal for protecting beverages like beer, soda or juice without affecting the taste. They also save manufacturers money since they cannot break during transport, in contrast to fragile glass bottles.

Why Is Aluminum Used in Food Packaging?

Many companies use aluminum for their food packaging needs due to its unique properties and superior recyclability. Aluminum packaging is so appealing due to the following properties.

1. A Thermal Conductor and Lightweight Material

Aluminum transfers heat quickly and homogeneously as a thermal conductor. Aluminum is also incredibly lightweight, meaning more products can be loaded onto vehicles — thus reducing transportation costs. 

Aluminum can protect food products' integrity at thin gauges, further decreasing the weight of the packaging material. 

2. High Degree of Barrier Protection 

Even as a thin foil, aluminum provides a complete barrier against oxygen, light and moisture. This property of aluminum works to protect the aroma, safety and quality of food products while requiring little material. 

Foods packaged with aluminum can maintain their integrity with protection from light, moisture, oxidation and bacterial contamination. 

3. Flexibility

Due to its flexibility, aluminum food packaging is a popular choice for pet food products, dairy products and processed food containers.

Aluminum is easily customizable through printing, embossing or creative shapes for consumer appeal and brand identification, making it an invaluable food packaging material from a marketing perspective. Aluminum foil is the material of choice for packaging food because it's malleable and has a low melting point.

4. Environmental Sustainability

Aluminum undergoes a five-step recycling process, which results in significant energy savings compared to other materials. It's an environmentally friendly and cost-effective choice for food packaging material. 

5. Longevity

Even without maintenance, aluminum foil can maintain its integrity for long periods. Aluminum foil will protect products for the duration of their shelf life, making it an ideal material for food packaging. It is also corrosion-resistant and reacts only to basic substances and highly concentrated acids.

Aluminum foil does not absorb liquids, which adds to its ability to protect products from outside environmental influences. It is sterile, tasteless, odorless and dimensionally stable even in a soft state. 

6. Availability 

Aluminum is the third most common material found in the Earth's crust and the most common metal. The world has an abundant supply of aluminum to be mined for industrial uses, including home care products, confectionery and food packaging. 

7. Colorful Packaging

Colorful aluminum packages often sell better, as consumers usually choose a specific product because they are attracted to its packaging and design. Packaging is advertising and product protection in one. 

Aluminum Consulting for the Food and Beverage Industry

HARBOR Aluminum offers aluminum can and foil consulting for breweries, cafeterias, food distribution centers and any other food and beverage business that uses aluminum food packaging. In addition, we research and deliver monthly, weekly and daily aluminum packaging outlook and market reports, as well as time-sensitive alerts to your mobile device.

With HARBOR, you get access to up-to-date aluminum foil and can sheet pricing, general aluminum premiums and other key market intelligence. You’ll always be ready to benefit your food and beverage business when the market shifts. Contact HARBOR or submit your subscription inquiry today.

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