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OCM relies on ArcelorMittal tinplate to produce high quality coffee cans for illy

Illy is one of the world’s best-known producers of quality coffee for domestic use and the catering industry. The company’s premium coffee is packaged in tinplate cans which are made by ArcelorMittal customer OCM, an Italian producer of packaging solutions. For more than thirty years, OCM has manufactured the iconic illy cans using tinplate from ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products. The result is a high-quality can which protects the aroma and taste of the coffee inside. The bare steel design also stands out from the competition on the shelf and meets illy’s requirements for traceable and recyclable packaging.

In addition to 250-gram cans for domestic use, illy also markets its coffee in three-kilogram tins for catering. Each year illy also selects an internationally renowned artist and replicates their artworks on a limited edition of cans. The limited editions are produced by OCM and are highly sought after by collectors.

OCM utilises the most advanced tools to create the high quality illy can

OCM began producing cans for illy in 1990. The brief was to create a tinplate can that could be filled in a controlled atmosphere and which would offer a long shelf-life and the convenience of an easy-open lid. “In addition to these basic requirements, illy also wanted a can with an excellent surface appearance, good mechanical properties, and good raw material traceability,” explains Ettore Dagnolo, CEO of OCM. “The surface is very important as most of it is bare metal. Consumers immediately see that. The surface cannot have any defects as it must convey the quality and premium positioning of the illy brand.”

Fully recyclable, tamper evident

Illy’s focus on the environment made tinplate the logical material, notes Ettore Dagnolo: “Tinplate is infinitely recyclable and sustainable, factors that are fundamental for both illy and OCM when it comes to material selection. It is also the ideal choice for the illy brand from the consumers point of view. Tinplate offers peace of mind as any attempt to tamper with the packaging is immediately evident. This has helped to ensure global acceptance of the illy brand.”

Like all steels, tinplate can be recycled over and over again without losing its properties. At 82.5 percent, tinplate also has the highest recycling rate of all packaging materials in Europe. This means that eight out of every 10 tins sold in Europe are effectively recycled. This is way ahead of competing materials such as plastics (42 percent) and cardboard (49 percent).

OCM utilises tinplate in thicknesses from 0.22 to 0.40 mm to make the cans. “The high product quality we achieve for illy is a perfect balance between the quality of the raw material provided by ArcelorMittal and OCM’s unique processes,” says Ettore Dagnolo. “ArcelorMittal guarantees the quality of the tinplate we receive meets our defined product parameters. We can rely on the stability of the product and ArcelorMittal’s logistics performance to meet our just-in-time delivery schedule.”

Before production starts, the steel is annealed (continuously or in batches) and given a stone-finished roughness. “The steel is mainly processed in our state-of-the-art machinery,” notes Ettore Dagnolo. “The finished cans are a credit to the skills and professionalism of OCM’s workforce.”

The OCM plant in Gruaro, Italy


Copyright:  Image courtesy from Illy and OCM

About OCM


The illy 3kg can

An illy can for domestic use is made of four components including a welded body, a bottom, an easy-open end, and a screw cap. The three-kilogram cans used in catering are more complex. One end of the can is stamped to include a thread so that it can be easily screwed into a coffee-grinder. The other end includes a handle to facilitate lifting and transport.

The cans are filled with freshly roasted coffee and natural, inert nitrogen under pressure. The process – together with the barrier properties of the can – traps essential aromas and protects the coffee for over a year. Thanks to steel, the freshness of the coffee is fully preserved while the taste is enhanced, conveying the rich and balanced style of the illy blend every time a can is opened.

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