Connoisseurs of the beer-can chicken recipe owe a toast of gratitude to the Metal Container Corporation (MCC). Part of the Anheuser-Busch (A-B) Packaging Group, the subsidiary makes aluminum cans and lids for A-B's domestic beer operations in addition to supplying the US soft drink container market. Hansen Natural's Monster Energy beverages are a major soft drink customer, as well as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. MCC makes more than 25 billion cans and 27 billion lids annually, and supplies more than 45% of A-B's domestic cans and 55% of its lids. About 25% of the US aluminum can market is produced by MCC, which operates five can and two lid manufacturing plants in the US.
In fall 2009 Anheuser-Busch InBev sold four of MCC's can and lid plants to rival Ball Corporation for $577 million in cash. The divested plants, in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Wisconsin, produce soft drink packaging -- not AB InBev's core product, beer. Although the plants represented 40% of MCC's manufacturing capacity, the terms of the sale included an agreement to continue to supply A-B InBev with beverage cans and lids from their former source.
Not only is MCC's production footprint shrinking, its best practices are streamlining processes and products. Each of the company's plants are very large, very productive, yet very low cost; some are capable of churning out more than 9 million cans a day. Raw material costs are contained by sourcing aluminum sheets processed from recycled cans. MCC also continues to work at designing a stronger, yet lighter-weight, single-serve product, requiring less aluminum and energy to manufacture and ship. Since it was established in 1973, MCC has reduced aluminum can weight by more than 40%, and rolled out a lid design that has helped to cut operating expenses. – less