Interview with Bernhard Hantmann

What made Poland a country in which Ball located its production plants? Poland is one of only six countries where the concern's plants are located, so there must have been some specific reasons for interest in our country?
Ball Packaging Europe entered the Polish market 1995, its production facility started operation in Radomsko and can look back on an unparalleled track record. In order to keep pace with continuous market growth, we installed a second production line in 1999 in Radomsko and have tripled our output volume since the plant was opened. Parallel to this the number of jobs rose.

As canned products became more available, more popular and enrichment of Polish society has been observed, Polish consumers have been year by year increasing its demand for canned products. After years of being a minor package the can became the most preferred package for many drink groups eg. beer and energy drinks. About 4.3 billion cans were sold in total on the Polish market in 2009 that was about 3 % more than in the previous year – a relatively low growth rate compared to previous years with growth rates of up to 30 %.

In 2009 the per capita consumption of beverage cans in Poland was 104 – more than twice as high as 5 years before. The biggest share is contributed by the beer segment with 90 cans per head. Hence the beverage can share in beer packaging has risen to 47%. Also, in the case of soft and energy drinks, it is mainly young Poles who choose cans. Particularly small cans for a quick refreshment ensured, as compared with the previous year, a growth of 14 % in the case of carbonated soft drinks and 58 % in the case of energy drinks. The can wins points in Poland thanks to its many advantages: easy to handle, light to transport and simple to store. And as it is considered trendy and modern, creative design possibilities are forever setting new and more exciting images on the sales shelves.

What is the future of Poland in terms of the concern's development in the nearest years? How is this part of production located in Poland to develop?
So far Poland was, with growth rates of up to 30 %, the most dynamic market in eastern Europe for Ball Packaging Europe. And there is a good chance that – despite the global economic crisis – it will remain that way also in the future.

The affluence of the population is constantly increasing and consumer confidence is extremely favourable – particularly for the beverage can. Overall, therefore, Poland is a market which, thanks to its growth, provides a lot of potential and prospects - and will remain one of the most important markets for Ball Packaging Europe.

Does the Polish metal packaging market differ in any terms from metal packaging markets in other European countries where Ball Packaging is present?
It is more dynamic than other European markets. Especially young consumers are open for innovation and new products. For example the 56,8cl can - a pint size, quite new for Polish consumers, focused on Polish emigrants coming from Uk where the size is widely used and very popular.

Producers of various types of packaging tend to convince that their packagings, e.g. those made of plastic are more ecological, less expensive than packagings made of other materials. What are the advantages which you, as renowned producers of cans, could attribute to cans?
The can is the most recycled drinks pack in the world. Every can is 100% recyclable and can be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality. The beverage can is a highly efficient & economic package to produce, fill and distribute. The can is a lightweight, convenient and unbreakable pack that protects the product perfectly. It is the only beverage packaging which is absolutely tight against light and oxygen. Therefore a beverage in a can has a longer shelf live.

The years 2008 and 2009 are the times of crisis. From the company's point of view, was this collapse visible both in its European and Polish markets or was it possible to avoid recession?
The European beverages can market was stable in times of crisis. We did not witness a substantial decrease of sales, however, the market was flat and is now returning to growth. In Poland the growth was slower than in previous years – however the prospects in Poland are again very promising.

Thank You for the interview