Transparent breakthrough

McCall Farms partners with Sonoco to pioneer the see-through plastic can

BY JESSICA IMBIMBO Morning News jimbimbo@florencenews.com SC Now

Glory Farms

FLORENCE -- McCall Farms reformed the canned food industry in late 2016 after introducing the first plastic see-through can to hit retail shelves.

The cans are featured solely on the McCall Farms “Glory Farms” product line, which includes a variety of beans, such as pinto beans, garbanzo and dark and light red kidney beans among others.

The new can idea came after McCall Farms doubled its production capacity with a large expansion in 2015. After enhancing its production capabilities, McCall Farms aimed toward expanding its consumer market.

Annie Ham, director of marketing at McCall Farms, said that with the canned food market declining, the company was looking for a way to keep pace with consumer demands, which tended to lean toward fresh, healthy ingredients.

“Fresh produce is the No. 1 growing section in the grocery store,” Ham said. “It’s good to know Americans are wanting to be healthier, but a lot of that is at the expense of canned food.”

At the end of 2015, the global packaging company Sonoco approached McCall Farms with an idea new to the canned food industry: a transparent plastic can. Ham said McCall Farms jumped at the idea to pioneer the clear can and immediately began consumer research and testing.

“We’ve never done anything in plastic. In fact, nobody had,” Ham said. “Sonoco had invented this technology, and they were just looking for the right partner. That’s a tremendous opportunity for us.”

McCall Farms was able to produce the plastic can without having to revamp all of its metal canning equipment, but there were a few changes to the canning process. The food takes approximately three times longer to cook in the plastic than in the previous metal can. To let the food withstand the longer cooking process, McCall Farms had to switch produce to a more high-end premium bean.

The retail price is also slightly more expensive, Ham said, with a nearly 30 percent markup compared to other brands. But Ham said the price difference is small compared to the better-quality product McCall Farms offers in the see-through cans.

“This is something that is closer to fresh,” Ham said. “It’s meant to appeal to a consumer that may be distrustful of metal cans. Someone that wants to be able to see what they’re buying.”

The transparent cans hit shelves at Harris Teeter and Ingles stores in November 2016, and Ham said two more stores have signed on to receive the new products. Ham said she expects to sell the new cans in at least another five to 10 stores within the next year.

“We want to try to figure out how to get growth in an industry that hasn’t shown a lot of growth,” Ham said. “We were absolutely on the cutting edge with something that is so brand new to the market, and we’ve gotten a huge response.”

For more information about Glory Farms, the transparent cans and the products, visit GloryFarms.com.