Compelo Packaging - Latest industry news and analysis is using cookies

ContinueLearn More

Part 2 of the discussion on benefits of carton and metal for tomato packaging, this time from the perspective of the metal manufacturers.

Lastword – Empac

The case for cans

This is a response to the previous article discussing benefits of tomoatoes in carton packaging, where EMPAC, the European Metal Packaging organization, discusses the benefits of cans as material of choice.

Today, the vast majority of processed tomato products are packed in metal cans. For example for Italy, the second biggest tomato producer in the world, ANICAV (the Italian Association of Preserved Vegetable Manufacturers) records show that 90% of tomatoes grown in Italy are packed in cans. There is a good reason for this outstanding performance.

Global market & logistics: Processed tomato products are exported around the world. In order to reach their destination safely, they need to be protected by the most robust packaging available, i.e. metal packaging. Cans offer the unique feature of being virtually unbreakable, whilst preserving their contents perfectly. They are a first class traveller.

Filling speeds: Tomato harvests come quickly with volumes which can vary significantly. Tomatoes are picked at the peak of ripeness and need to be processed from field to pack in less than 24 hours. The can is the answer to this challenge with its unbeatable filling speeds of up to a 1000 pieces per minute. Additionally, can manufacturers are able to respond to market peaks with their ‘high
volume – high performance’ 2-piece and 3-piece lines.

Nutritional value, shelf life & saving food: Canned tomatoes are recognised by consumers as being safe and nutritious. The canning process locks in flavour, vitamins, antioxidants and other essential
nutrients, whilst keeping impurities out. This means they have unrivalled shelf lives and therefore reduce waste from spoilage. They are the consumer’s friend and have a place in every household.

Sustainability: Metal is a permanent material which never finishes being useful to society. Metal is forever; when a metal product reaches the end of its useful life, the material is simply collected and
recycled, again and again. In today’s world of limited resources, metal’s circular economy is a role model. The can is the world’s most recycled packaging and in Europe, recycling rates now reach over 90% in several countries. The can is fit for purpose and for our planet.

Production chain: In tomato producing countries, there is a sophisticated and integrated chain covering the total process, i.e. land preparation > planting > harvesting > washing > selection > blanching > sterilization & canning > sales & distribution. Cans are a key part of this chain, able to react quickly and cost efficiently.

Canned tomatoes freshness and nutritional values

Tomatoes are picked at the peak of ripeness and are canned on the same day without adding preservatives, capturing flavour, vitamins, antioxidants and other essential nutrients. Tomatoes are particularly high on lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against disease.

Due to its unique attributes, metal packaging saves food. Acting as food warehouses, cans capture harvests for future use in all logistical or climatic conditions. With hermetic sealing providing unrivalled shelf life, cans protect their contents over many months, with no heating or refrigeration, saving up to 70% in energy consumption.

Fast filling is absolutely critical in the harvest season when tomatoes need to be packed very quickly after collection from the fields. In fact, ‘field to can’ is done within 24 hours without adding preservatives, ensuring fresh and nutritious products, which remain stable up until they are consumed.

Tomato fillers are active in a global market, exporting their products around the world. In order to reach their destination safely, they need to be protected by the most robust packaging available, i.e. metal packaging. Cans are unbreakable, impact-resistant and puncture-resistant. They withstand extreme temperatures and pressure and due to the hermetic sealing, they provide a total barrier against light, gas and oxygen, resulting in the longest shelf lives for processed products. Cans preserve the quality of their contents perfectly and reduce the risk of leaking or tearing during transportation, no matter the logistical and climatic conditions.

Due to these unique features, the can is the packaging of choice in the tomato sector and remains the leader in other processed vegetable markets. According to FDA records, there has not been a food-borne illness case resulting from the failure of metal packaging in over 35 years – an unbeatable record.


"Canned tomatoes are rich in antioxidants. One half cup of canned tomatoes provides 11.8 milligrams of lycopene compared to just 3.7 milligrams found in one medium fresh, uncooked tomato." USDA 2005 study

-The canning process locks in nutrients at their peak of freshness, and due to the lack of oxygen during the storage period, canned fruits and vegetables remain stable up until the time they are consumed. This means they have a longer shelf life, which helps reduce waste from spoilage.
(Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Vol. 87. Issues 6 and 7. April and May 2007)