"Many can makers say that business will be good in 2007, but it depends on elections as some congressmen's posts are coming up for re-election," says Henry Tanedo, president of the Tin Can Makers Association of the Philippines, "When there are elections, politicians buy canned goods such as sardines, rice and milk, to distribute to voters.
The prices of canned sardines have a political aspect, explains Tanedo
, owing to its status as a staple item along with rice in the diet of many low income Filipinos."Canned sardines are the poor man's fish.The cost of the empty sardine tin can has increased from 35 per cent of the total filled sardine can cost up to 45-50 per cent," Tanedo
says, "As the cost of sardine fish has increased, some consumers are buying noodles instead.
"Tinplate prices have been stable this past year but there is a storage problem as a lot of tin can factories are overstocked with tinplate," Tanedo
says.Prime tinplate is imported mainly from Japan and South Korea.Domestic production of tinplate is due to restart in future following the takeover of Global Steel, formerly National Steel, by India's Mittal Group
Cans canThe Tin Can Makers Association of the Philippines
estimates there are about 28 tin can manufacturers throughout the country, some with two or more plants.The association has 35 full members and associate members of which 18 are can manufacturers."About six of our members own two or three can making factories," Tanedo
says."In the past two years, three local can makers have closed.Two others have reduced their production capacities because of labour problems, while the rest of the local companies are alive and kicking."Several of the large food and beverage companies operate their own can lines.San Miguel Corporation
, which owns the Philippines' sole two-piece aluminium can line, also produces steel cans for its various food and beverage divisions."Some companies making cans, like Dole and Del Monte of the US
, are not our members," Tanedo
says, "These two have about four or five can making lines each and consume about 2,000mt of tinplate a month."Both Dole
and Del Monte
have large export-orientated fruit, vegetable and juice production operations in Mindanao."Fruit juices are a growth area for Del Monte
and Dole as they have introduced EOE ends for 202mm cans, which has made them more convenient.Also, they are producing more juice flavours," Tanedo remarks.Canned meat is another important element in the staple diet of many Filipinos.Canned food is suited for transport through the 7,000 island Philippines archipelago because of its protective packaging and the fact it provides safe storage in rural shops and homes."The biggest canned meat market is corned beef," Tanedo
"Biscuits and cookies used to be 100 per cent packed in cans, but now a lot are in plastic packaging; but the plastic seal is not as good," Tanedo
says.Because of this, biscuits may be coming back to tinplate boxes, he
predicts.One area close to Tanedo's heart is that of cooking oil.He is president and CEO of Philcan Industrial Corporation, the first and so far only ISO 2000-9001 accredited can making, filling (cooking oil) and printing company in the Philippines.
Tanedo points out: "We make the can for cooking oil, fill it and warehouse it for the customer, who simply distributes the product."Philcan
has 14 lines in its Manila factory and three in its Cebu plant in the central Visayas region.In addition the company has one coating and three printing lines in the Manila plant.His
240 staff in Manila and 25 staff in Cebu produce 17kg cooking oil cans, along with four litre round and rectangular paint cans and some smaller sizes."Most cans we make in Manila are filled here.We set up production in Cebu as it is better to send flat plate there and then form rather than shipping empty cans there," Tanedo
says, "Printed can designs are becoming more complicated in fewer colours.People are trying to reduce costs by reducing the numbers of colours used."The company is also expanding overseas, having won a recent contract to supply a customer in Australia with cans to fill with traditional plum pudding."We were able to beat suppliers China on both price and quality," Tanedo
says."The 603mm diameter can is a special size.We made a sample and the customer came over, looked at our facilities and they were satisfied."
Ice creamIce cream is another item that also increasingly is being packed in tinplate cans."Arce Ice Cream Co
used tinplate cans and then shifted to plastic cans; but now they are coming back to tinplate as they discovered more electricity is needed to freeze ice cream in plastic cans," Tanedo
says."In plastic, ice cream melts in supermarkets as they use less electricity at night, and so they cannot sell ice cream when they open in the morning until it refreezes, which affects the taste."
is optimistic about the prospects of cans in the Philippines market, though he
is cautious about expansion."Tin cans are here to stay.They will not disappear.With tinplate prices already high, the only way for prices to go should be downwards, so can making should be stable or better," he