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Steel packaging adds value, quality, and recyclability to Europe’s favourite canned food

Fish and seafood are precious commodities which can spoil easily unless they are consumed or preserved quickly. Since the 1800s, canning has been the best way to ensure they can be enjoyed at any time of the year. Despite the many preserving techniques available today, canning remains the most popular with consumers – and steel still leads the way. That’s because steel preserves the taste, nutritional properties, and organoleptic qualities of the product over the long term. And increasingly, canners are taking advantage of steel’s mechanical properties to differentiate their brands on the market.

Leading producers of canned seafood rely on steel from ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products. We supply steel for packaging to their canmakers to ensure the success of the brand. One of the oldest producers of canned seafood in Europe is Conserverie la belle-iloise from France. A family business, Conserverie la belle-iloise has been using steel for its canned seafood since the company was established in the 1930s.

“We offer a quality product, mainly made from fresh fish, in steel packaging which can be kept for several years,” explains Catherine Benoit, the packaging procurement manager for Conserverie la belle-iloise. “Canning offers a convenient form of preservation which maintains the sensory and nutritional qualities of the fish throughout the packaging process and in storage.”

Healthy preservation and nutritional value

"The process used to can fish does not involve preservatives, making it very healthy for humans,” notes Juan M. Vieites Baptista de Sousa, secretary general of the Spanish industry association ANFACO-CECOPESCA: “Once the container has been closed, thermal treatment ensures the sterility of the product and preserves its minerals and vitamins. Canned fish and shellfish have a high protein content, making it a highly nutritious food with exceptional sensory qualities. The product also contains all the essential amino acids that the human body needs.”

While their popularity with consumers comes down to taste and the quality of the ingredients, the practicality of the can is also important notes Cécile Roudaut, marketing and innovation director for Conserverie la belle-iloise: “Cans are convenient for consumers, and they preserve the qualities of the selected ingredients for a long time. That’s down to the mechanical properties of the tinplate. It provides a barrier which is very robust, safe, and durable.”

The main advantage of tinplate, compared to materials such as glass or plastic, is its mechanical resistance notes Juan M. Vieites Baptista de Sousa: “This prevents food loss from strong impacts, for example. But without a doubt, it also guarantees there is a barrier to external agents such as microbes or light. Light is one of the main causes of oxidation in preserved food. The opacity provided by tinplate ensures the sensory quality of the food is maintained for many years.

Recyclability a key issue for consumers

Steel packaging makes good sense for consumers due to its infinite recyclability. “Consumers want our products to be good for them and their families, but they also want it to be good for the planet,” says Catherine Benoit. “That’s why we’re very involved in reducing pollution in the ocean. By using steel, we’re showing that we take our eco-responsibility very seriously. Our packaging has a second life!”

Conserverie la belle-iloise also uses steel for secondary packaging, such as decorative gift boxes. “Using steel for our cans is in our DNA, it’s a nod to what we do,” says Cécile Roudaut. “But the thought of being able to reuse it, and the decorative and quality aspects of steel compared to other materials also puts our brand ahead of the competition.”


Image courtesy: Conserverie la belle-iloise
Image courtesy: ANFACO-CECOPESCA

Related information

About Conserverie la belle-iloise

Established in the 1930s, la belle-iloise is a leading producer of high-end canned fish products. Based in France, the company operates a restaurant, and a network of 80 stores in France and Belgium. Its products are also sold online and through high-end retailers around the world.

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ANFACO-CECOPESCA is a private, non-profit business association which represents the marine and food cluster. Based in Vigo (Spain), the organisation also provides value-added services to the industry through its Technology Centre.

More info:

About Massilly

Established in 1911 in Burgundy (France), Massilly has grown to become a global player in metal packaging. The company now has 25 subsidiaries in 15 countries. As well as food packaging and caps, Massilly produces aerosol cans, industrial packaging, and decorative tins.

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