This category covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing metal crowns and closures, including both bottle caps and jar crowns and tops.
332115 (Crown and Closure Manufacturing)
The crowns and closures industrial classification is a portion of the larger stamped metals industry that is fading into a highly fragmented industry. As bottlers seek lower production costs, more tamper-evident packaging, and better printability for product differentiation, many continue to move away from metal closures, preferring plastic ones instead.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 66 establishments operated in this category in the late 1990s. Industry-wide employment totaled 4,026 workers receiving a payroll of more than $153 million in 2000. Within this workforce, 3,355 of these employees worked in production, putting in more than 7 million hours to earn wages of more than $114 million. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at almost $887 million in 2000.
The product share of this industry is split into three sections. Metal commercial closures and metal home canning closures comprise 84.39 percent of the total market, and metal crowns for glass and metal containers represent 14.08 percent. Non-specific crowns and closures represent the remaining 1.53 percent. Aluminum, in the form of sheet, plate, and foil, is proportionately the industry's largest input. Tin plate, tin-free steel, terneplate, and blackplate represent the second most highly consumed materials. Carbon steel sheet and strips are also used.
Bottled and canned soft drink manufacturers use up 22.3 percent of the industry's outputs. Malt beverage makers use 10.6 percent; pickles, sauces, and salad dressings consume 10.5 percent; and canned fruits and vegetables take 7.7 percent of the industry's outputs. The industry's products are also used in the packaging of roasted coffee, wines, brandy, brandy spirits, toilet preparations, and confectionery products.
Shipments in the metal crowns and closures industry increased in the early and mid-1990s, moving from $720.2 million in 1990 to $770.9 million in 1995. Shipments reached a peak in 1993 at $837.1 million. Much of the increase was attributed to a shortage in plastic closures, forcing some bottlers to turn to metal. Employment in this industry, however, has steadily fallen. In 1983, this industry employed 7,100 people, 5,700 of who were production workers. By 1995, this total was 4,300, with 3,500 production workers.
Industry sales have fluctuated in reaction to conditions in the plastics market. For example, metal closure sales picked up somewhat in the mid-1990s when a high worldwide demand for polypropylene—a type of resin used to manufacture plastic closures—slowed the shift from metal to plastic closures. At the same time, some bottlers' market research has showed that in certain cases, consumers actually prefer metal closures to plastic. Alcoa, for example, found that consumers favor the popping sound aluminum closures make when a vacuum-packed glass bottle is opened. That technology does not yet exist in plastic closures, so some select segments of the beverage market are moving back to aluminum.
The value of industry shipments declined steady throughout the late 1990s, falling from $953 million in 1997 to $896 million in 1999. In 2000, the value of shipments dropped to $887 million. However, the cost of materials during this time period actually increased, growing from $519 million in 1997 to $537 million in 2000. The total number of industry employees fell from 4,576 in 1997 to 4,026 in 2000.
Philadelphia-based Crown Cork and Seal Company, which led the industry with 1998 sales of $8.3 billion, announced late that year that lower earnings prompted them to cut 7 percent of its workforce—about 2,700 workers—in order to return profits of $0.80 instead of $1.05 to its shareholders. On the other hand, Aptar Group subsidiary Valois, a French-based manufacturer of perfume and pharmaceutical pumps, considered doubling its workforce over a two-year period. AptarGroup Inc. of Crystal Lake, Illinois generated 1999 sales of almost $714 million. Rounding out the top four industry leaders were Indianapolis-based Alcoa Closure Systems International and Alltrista Corp. of Muncie, Indiana.
Alltrista is best known for its Ball home canning jars and closures (the Ball brand dates back to 1884). In addition to producing metal closures, the company's metal fabrication operations manufacture a wide range of zinc-based products, from battery cans to coin blanks to industrial components. In 1996, Alltrista acquired the Kerr Group Inc., another maker of home canning products, and consolidated Kerr's manufacturing facility into Alltrista's existing operations. To complement its line of home canning products, Alltrista also makes a variety of food preservation products used in canning.
Machine operators in the fabricated metal products industry earned about $510 a week in 1994. This is somewhat less than many other metalworking and plastics-working machine operators; those in primary metals industries earned $640 weekly and those in industrial machinery and equipment earned $570 a week.
Employment is expected to decline through the year 2005 for both metalworking and plastics-working machine operators. Those employed in metalworking are likely to be affected more than those employed in plastics because, in recent years, plastic products have increasingly been used in place of metal in consumer and manufacturing products. Another reason for the employment decline is the widespread use of computer-controlled production equipment.
According to Alltrista's 1996 Annual Report, the home canning products segment of this industry was hampered by a poor U.S. growing season in both 1995 and 1996, resulting in lower earnings for establishments producing these products. The cyclical nature of seasonal weather patterns, however, almost guarantees an improvement in this part of the industry.
A new development in aluminum can closures surfaced in 1996, building on the existing concept of the "eco-lid." The eco-lid is a tab that allows the consumer to open a beverage can by pushing the lid inside the body of the container. The lid stays attached to the can, reducing solid waste. Some hygienic concerns still exist over the eco-lid, since the beverage unfailingly comes in contact with the exposed part of the package that gets pushed inside the can. An innovation called S.H.E.S (which stands for "Safe, Hygienic, Easy, Simple") addresses this concern with a fully recyclable dispenser inside the can. The dispenser is pulled out when the can is opened. S.H.E.S. represents about a 5 percent production cost increase over current can closure technologies. As of early 1997, this development had not been widely adopted by closure manufacturers.
Alltrista Corporation. 1996 Annual Report. Muncie, IN: Alltrista Corporation, 1997.
"Alltrista Corporation Profile." Alltrista Corporation, 1997. Available from http://www.alltrista.com .
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Bureau of Labor Statistics. Metalworking and Plastics-Working Machine Operators. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1996. Available from http://www.stats.bls.gov .
"Crown Cuts Jobs, Costs." Soap-Cosmetics-Chemical Special-ties , December 1998.
Darnay, Arsen J., ed. Manufacturing USA. 5th ed. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 1996.
Sfiligoj, Eric. "Cap Squeeze." Beverage World , June 1995.
——. "S.H.E.S.' the One." Beverage World , September 1996.
United States Census Bureau. "Crown and Closure Manufacturing" 1997 Economic Census-Manufacturing. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999. Available from http://www.census.gov .
United States Census Bureau. "Statistics for Industries and Industry Groups: 2000." Annual Survey of Manufacturers. February 2002. Available from http://www.census.gov .
U.S. Department of Commerce. 1995 Annual Survey of Manufactures. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1996.